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November 1, 2008
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Provide you with tools and concepts for getting
things done in organizations in todayʼs Welcome to the trek
increasingly volatile, unpredictable world. Join me in learning how to nurture
more effective organizations. The
world is changing at an amazing
Lots more online pace, new pathways to prosperity
These printed pages are the front end are opening up all around us, and no
to content online at one has a map. I hope youʼll join me
http://un-book.com. as a fellow explorer, not just a
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Come to our community site to chat
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The Informal Learning 2.0 Fieldbook. Thatʼs what I called this
growing heap of words until I realized I wasnʼt writing a book, and
my topic was broader than informal learning.
This un-book takes the liberty of
Not about learning? Learning is the cognitive process of taking many forms. It’s a
acquiring skills or knowledge. This treatise is about doing. In a perpetual experiment. If you
society of knowledge workers, learning is more important than want to see a topic expanded or
ever, but if it does not lead to action it is simply a distraction. Iʼd to recommend any pages for the
use the title Getting Things Done if someone had not beat me to it. shredder, email me or post a
notice on the Learnscaping
Not a book? Traditional books freeze an authorʼs thoughts in time.
The faster the world ﬂows by, the less relevant the book. The Community site.
material here will probably change at least once a week. The book
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This un-book is forever a work in progress. By responding to
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Un-book readers participants make things better for the next guy.
They learn from one another. Traditional books are one-way. The
author speaks; you listen. Consider the Whole Earth Catalog,
which pulled you in with information on handy tools and how to Speak up at our community:
use them. The Whole Earth Catalog pre-dated the Web. Now, http://learnscape.ning.com/
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Most pages here are learning
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Scribble a note on each page you
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Read a little. Pause.
Highlight meaningful text.
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Doses of about 30 minutes
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When you see a
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respond. And the rest will be content to sit on the sidelines; they will learn a slim fraction of what the active participants do. Please, for your sake, not mine, go
online and leave a comment on any page. Break the ice and join the doers. You will gain a lot more if you do.
Current contents at http://un-book.com, the Learnscape Cloud
This un-book is for early adopters Early
Enthusiasts, visionaries, tinkerers, and experimenters are drink close
always the ﬁrst to try out something new. They are the crazy to the
ones. They put up with half-baked, pre-release products in
return for the opportunity to reap early rewards, bragging
rights for beating others to the punch, and having vendors the stream.
pay them respect.
You know these early adopters. When a new piece of
software comes out, they have to try it. When a different
approach to training appears, they volunteer their
organization for a pilot test. Manual? We donʼt need no
Uncertainty engages the mind.
Early adopters enjoy shaping products and services before
the concrete hardens. They regard problems as opportunities Donʼt be too certain
to give feedback. Frequently, they are artistic, creative
people trapped in rigid organizations. Pushing the envelope All learning is co-creation, a product of a learner and an outside
feeds their need for variety and innovation. Silicon Valley agent.
would wither without them, for they provide the initial toe-hold
for unproven concepts. A professor gave her class a paper on urban sociology to read,
explaining that there would be a test. The professor gave another
This is the early-adopter version of this un-book. If you are class the same paper and instructions plus a warning that the
not comfortable with typos, sentence fragments, missing material was controversial; it might not be correct. In other words,
chapters, and perhaps a few urban legends trying to pass the paper was beta.
themselves off as truth, wait a while. The dotted-i, crossed-t
version will be out eventually, and it will incorporate the The group that read the beta paper scored higher. Why? Because
changes suggested. uncertainty engages the mind.
If you are an enthusiast, please assume your preferred This is why it makes sense to label all learning activities beta.
identity: participate. When you dig into the online material Engage the learnersʼ minds. For that matter, mark plans beta: It will
here, add comments and make suggestions. Help make this invite participation. And make your department beta — after all,
better. Join the community, stoke discussion, and raise a everything is an experiment
Of course, as with everything else in here, this chapter is still in
In the knowledge era, learning is the work. Foolish is the organization that
tries to manage the pieces of learning as if they were independent from an
overall work/learning process.
In the previous commercial era, workers operated machinery to produce
goods. You could see what they were doing and touch the goods they
produced. Time-and-motion studies identiﬁed the one best way to do a job;
training taught workers how to do it. Successful workers followed
instructions. “Youʼre not paid to think.” Outcomes were predictable. Work
Today, workers apply knowledge to deliver services. You canʼt see most of “The purpose of the organization is to enable
common men to do uncommon things. No organization
what theyʼre doing, and their output is largely intangible. Thereʼs always a can depend on genius; the supply is always scarce and
better way to do a job; learning stretches minds to cope with new unreliable. The test of an organization is the spirit of
situations. Successful knowledge workers are rewarded for innovation and performance. The focus must be on the strengths of a
ingenuity. These workers are paid to think. Change is rampant and man—on what he can do rather than what he cannot do.
The focus of the organization must be on opportunities
unpredictable. Work is social.
rather than problems.”
Learning is the work Peter Drucker
Corporate learning used to based on the proposition that knowing how
people did things in the past was adequate preparation for the present.
This worked when there was generally but one, unchanging way to do a
task. Today, change is baked into everything. About all we can say about
the future is that it wonʼt be like the past. The topic of learning must shift
from what used to work to what works now.
High-quality learning is that which enables a worker to turn in an exemplary
performance, and this is a moving target. Pragmatic learning involves
continually acquiring knowledge, ﬁguring out how to do things, unlearning
concepts that have become obsolete, and keeping abreast of change. The
product of learning is adaptation.
Not so long ago, knowledge was thought to reside in oneʼs head. Now we
understand knowledge to be collective intelligence, a shared consensual
reality. We arenʼt mere consumers of knowledge; weʼre contributors as well.
One platform for work and learning
The new factory ﬂoor
Industrial age workers created value in factories. Where do knowledge workers
create value? I will call the knowledge-age factory ﬂoor a learnscape.
A learnscape is the platform where knowledge workers collaborate, solve
problems, converse, share ideas, brainstorm, learn, relate to others, talk,
explain, communicate, conceptualize, tell stories, help one another, teach,
serve customers, keep up to date, meet one another, forge partnerships, build
communities, and distribute information. Learnscapes are where and how
modern work is performed.
Landscapes and learnscapes
Landscape design is an apt metaphor for nurturing an ecology for learning. You
design, climate happens, things evolve.
• Design concept – strategic intent, shared vision, harmony Simple
• Preparing the Land – architecture, workspace design, organizational form
• Pruning – 80/20 focus, pulling the weeds, unlearning
• Maintenance – organizational network analysis, augmentation Robust
• Life cycle – of the learners, of the ecosystem Thriving
• Seasons – adaptation of the learnscape, cycle time Connected
• Tending each plant – I/O, progress, ﬁt, connections, response rate
• Nutrients – rewards, sunlight, stories, patterns, stability
• Yield = revenue
• Garden tours – customer feedback, beauty, charm
• Experiments – plant exotic species, keep mutants, innovate often
• Flows – the streams of information
Platform, not program
Learnscape architects work with platforms, not programs. A platform is an operating system for networks that puts their
users in charge. It is a framework, not a ﬁxed program. A program is a structured, rigid element thatʼs provided on a take-it-
or-leave-it basis. Software programs and training program both operate in the context of platforms. The happenstance
learning platforms of the past were as water to the ﬁsh: too close to be seen.
Learnscape architects sculpt ﬂexible, loosely-coupled frameworks for learning. They rise above events to tweak the into practice
connections in processes. They consciously move to a higher plane. Their concern is not individual learning so much as
the loftier vantage of meta-learning.
Courses end; learnscapes persist. Organizations and their members are living things, and the landscape/learnscape
analogy invites us to consider nature, symbiosis, interconnections, genetic make-up, adaptation, the change of seasons,
and life cycles.
The learnscape architect Powers
Role of the architect
Gardeners donʼt control plants; managers donʼt control people. They canʼt make a plant
ﬁt into the landscape or a person ﬁt into an organization; they can prepare an
environment to make this likely. Our role as learning professionals is to protect the
environment, provide nutrients for growth, and let nature take its course.
Learnscape architects nurture organizations to get things done as simply and naturally as
possible. Diverse elements, held in equilibrium, make for robust, thriving, vibrant
organizations. Learnscapes share many characteristics with the web: simplicity, clarity,
user-centricity, restraint and attention to detail.
Self-service workers connect to one another, to ongoing ﬂows of information and work, to
their teams and organizations, to their customers and markets, not to mention their
families and friends because they can easily navigate networks of “small pieces, loosely
joined,” the conventions they know from the internet.
A landscape architectʼs goal is to conceptualize a harmonious, uniﬁed, pleasing garden
that makes the most of the site at hand. A learnscape architect strives to create a
learning environment that increases the organizationʼs longevity and health and the
individual learnerʼs happiness and well-being.
Harmony is a tough sell in a topsy-turvy business climate. Business leaders are likely to
be more interested in its ripples, among them:
• building productive two-way relationships with customers
• fostering a culture of continuous improvement
• facilitating teamwork, collaboration, and joint problem-solving
• increasing corporate responsiveness to change
• cutting superﬂuous email and bureaucratic bloat
• strengthening bonds with all stakeholders
• attracting inquisitive, self-motivated talent
• keeping abreast of new developments in industry and markets
• fostering self-service learning without boundaries
• replacing antiquated control systems with enlightened self-regulation
Just getting started? Go to Our Cloud. Read Are you ready? and
Whatʼs in it for you?
The major obstacle
The web enables the many to wrest power from the
few and helps them not only change the world but
change the way the world changes. The cover of
Time magazine ran a picture of a computer monitor
filled with one word: You. The text underneath
read, “Yes, you. You control the Information Age
Welcome to your world.” This is hardly the first
instance of Time oversimplifying things.
There’s a speed bump on the
road to your world: THEM.
They are skeptical. They fear that no matter how well- A New York tailor has
intentioned and enthusiastic its fans, this web 2.0 stuff can an audience with the
wait. It is a diversion from the core mission. It might backfire. Pope. His friends all
It’s disruptive. The ROI’s not there. We need to plan first. We ask what his holiness
have to assign responsibility. We have to put controls in place. was like. “Heʼs a 46
We need to assess the pitfalls. Who’s going to take Regular.”
responsibility for this stuff? Murphy’s Law will kick in. Ad
The eight-letter word that summarizes these arguments is:
BULLSHIT. To win them over to your cause, you may want to
be less direct.
Where absolute superiority is
not attainable, you must produce
a relative one at the decision
point by making skillful use of
what you have. --Karl von
Clausewisz (On War, 1832)
“We don’t have enough time.”
Human brains have not changed much in the past 20,000 years. On
the savannah, evolution favored hunters who could make snap
decisions. Thinking long-term didnʼt matter when people lacked the
language to plan ahead, the average lifespan was under 20, and all
of humanity didnʼt leave a carbon toe-print. Times have changed but
brains have not.
From Calvin and Hobbes…
“Nothing I do is my fault. My family is
“Heʼs too busy chopping down trees to stop and sharpen his axe” dysfunctional and my parents wonʼt empower
exempliﬁes the folly of short-term thinking. You cannot postpone the me! Consequently, Iʼm not self-actualized. My
inevitable. “I donʼt have enough time” is a statement of priorities, not behavior is addictive functioning on a disease
a description of the availability of time. process of toxic codependency! I need holistic
healing and wellness before Iʼll accept any
responsibility for my actions!”–Calvin
“One of us needs to stick his head in a bucket
What’s holding us back? of ice water.” –Hobbes
Business has already squeezed the big process
improvements out of its industrial systems. For many “I love the culture of victimhood.”–Calvin
companies, the beneﬁts of collaboration and networking are
virgin territory. The upside potential is staggering: people
innovating, sharing, supporting one another, all naturally and
without barriers. The traditional approach has been to
automate routine tasks in order to reduce cost; the new vision
is to empower people to take advantage of their innate desire
to share and learn.
Web 2.0, the “collaborative web,” makes ﬁle cabinets and
hard drives overﬂowing with email obsolete. Members of a
group can share information and make improvements to one
copy thatʼs virtually available to everyone. Workers learn to
remix rather than re-invent, and having everyone read from
the same page overcomes the danger of mistaking obsolete
information for current. Distance no longer keeps workers
apart. As we remove obstacles, the time required to do
anything shrivels up.
Purpose of the Learnscape
Make organization more valuable to its stakeholders
Intangible On demand
Learnscape Work Transparent
1. Common rules for 2. It’s everywhere,
3. Contains loosely-
A learnscape is the platform where knowledge workers coupled, reconﬁgurable
collaborate, solve problems, converse, share ideas, brainstorm, networks
learn, relate to others, talk, explain, communicate, conceptualize,
tell stories, help one another, teach, serve customers, keep up to
date, meet, forge partnerships, build communities, and distribute
information. Learnscapes are where and how modern work is
Industrial mindset to network culture
End of Age of Stuff Beginning the Age of Connections
Cogito ergo sum Perception is reality
Material world Therefore, many realities out there
WYSIWYG, one reality Everything is connected
“It is I.” “We are all in this together.”
More than demise of industrial era Everything is relative
Newton just a summary Everything ﬂows
Focus on the visible It’s all connected
World is mechanical, predictable World is complex, outcomes uncertain
Pre-atomic, pre-quantum All is a work-in-progress
Belief in fundamentals, absolutes Time as a artiﬁcial overlay, i.e. a tennis racket
Some stuff is “ﬁnished” Ditto ownership (since things are a ﬁgment)
“We are nodes” “We are connectors”
Learning to do stuff Learning to be (take new vantage point)
This is the major issue of our time.
Crossing the Great Divide
Survival in business requires crossing the great divide between
where we are now and where we need to be a year or two from
Weʼve lived on the left side of the divide for centuries.
Enormous successes have lulled us into a complacent rhythm.
We have wrought miracles: electriﬁcation, electronics, bio-tech,
computers, television, mass production, trains, planes, and
automobiles: you name it.
Nonetheless, itʼs time to move on. Everything is going faster,
swinging further out of normal limits, and behaving erratically.
Weʼre ripping along so fast that the wheels are about to fall off.
Think demise of the planet, using up irreplaceable resources,
turning up the heat, weapons of mass destruction (unlike Iraq,
we have real ones), tribal and religious hatred, etc., etc., etc.
This is entropy.
Crossing the great divide colors everything else weʼll be talking
Learning to go beyond
People learn best in a context of common understanding, moral conviction,
emotional intelligence, and standards of conduct. Wise educators help build
platforms for learning that incorporate these qualities. They delegate the control
of learning to students and concentrate on nurturing platforms that enable people
to exercise their new-found discretionary learning power wisely.
How can we make it from where we
Collectively and individually, we need to lift our anchors to the past. Planting one are now to where we need to be?
foot in the future while keeping the other in the past is not feasible. Weʼre
accustomed to living atop a foundation of beliefs, assumptions, and values that
we perceived as reality. Leaving that reality behind requires us to accept that
there are multiple realities. The foundation we each tie ourselves to is not some
solid object that glues us to the earth.
The belief that our ships are immobile, as if moored in concrete, is learned
helplessness. We see what we expect to see and are blind to possibilities beyond
our expectations. What seemed to be a foundation is more like a personal ship.
Weʼre irrevocably tied to the ship (itʼs what keeps us aﬂoat) but the ship is free to
Why this is hard
Business context Network effects Worldview
Core/context Dense interconnections Emergence
Object orientation Accelerating cycle time Illusion of control
Bottom-up Interdependence Holistic
Customer voice Volatility Perpetual beta
Unpredictable Long tail Everything flows
Incessant change Ambient findability All is connected
Services/intangibles Signal:noise Process
Learning Internet values Knowledge
Informal Connections Collective intelligence
Adaptation Openness Socially-constructed
Becoming Transparency Context-bound
Know-who Authenticity Breakdown of disciplines
Drip feed Interactivity Group phenomenon
Need-driven Loosely coupled Social intelligence
Performance support Interoperability Cognitive breakthroughs
Up, up, and away
Density of connections
Work as improv
The new factory ﬂoor
In the last commercial era, workers operated machinery to
produce goods. You could see what the workers were doing and
touch the goods they produced. Time-and-motion studies
identiﬁed the one best way to do a job; training taught workers
how to do it. Successful workers followed instructions. “Youʼre not
paid to think.” Outcomes were predictable. Work was mechanical.
Today, workers apply knowledge to deliver services. You canʼt see
what theyʼre doing, and their output is largely intangible. Thereʼs
always a better way to do a job; learning stretches minds to cope
with new situations. Successful knowledge workers are rewarded
for innovation and ingenuity. These workers are paid to think.
Change is rampant and unpredictable. Work is social.
View day-to-day Industrial age workers created value in factories; knowledge
workers create value in learnscapes. A learnscape is the platform
where knowledge workers collaborate, solve problems, converse,
share ideas, brainstorm, learn, relate to others, talk, explain,
communicate, conceptualize, tell stories, help one another, teach,
serve customers, keep up to date, meet one another, forge
partnerships, build communities, and distribute information.
Corporations that learn and Learnscapes are the knowledge-age equivalent of the factory
ﬂoor; they are where and how modern work is performed.
adapt will prosper; those that
donʼt will not endure. In the knowledge era,
learning is the work.
Push and Pull Organizations
Telemarketers from the vendor with a push strategy call to sell you
insurance as you sit down to dinner. The Hard Rock Café displays Bo
Diddley’s guitar pick and plays throbbing music to pull you in. The
itinerant Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman pushes; the Gilroy Garlic
Festival is pull. Push is generally someone else’s idea; pull is what
you think you want.
The Industrial Age was pushy. Owners predicted what would people
would buy, built the factory, made large quantities to take advantage
of economies of scale, and then tried to convince people to buy.
Today change is so rampant and the future so unpredictable that Dell
doesn’t build your computer until you order it. You cannot set up in
advance when you don’t know what the future holds.
New management disciplines for the pull world all involve how
organizations relate to one another (outsourcing, orchestration,
productive friction). This, in turn, makes one think about where
strategic advantage comes from. China is rapidly becoming the center
for business management innovation, and this is the source of
continuing advantage; copycats won’t catch you if you’re always
ahead of them.
All of this is nurtured by networks stitched together with responsive,
Value, i.e. what it takes to stay ahead, used to reside in killer products
or shrewd finance. In the pull world, value results from talent. Talent,
in turn, is the result of maintaining relationships. The leading
organizations of the future will be those with the ability to create and
retain talent. Developing talent will become the role of the firm – and
the way people choose who they want to work for.
I know, I know: I have hammered the
Push/Pull metaphor to death here.
That’s because I find it so useful for
understanding what is happening in the
Push is the phone call during supper
urging me to donate $50 to some
charity I never heard of.
Pull is me using Google to find just
what I need.
Learners. Designation used by Workers. People paid by
learning professionals to escape organizations to get a job done. May
the pesky notion that people have apply to executives, factory hands,
lives outside of lessons and and paper pushers. Reminder to
workshops. focus on getting the job done.
Informal learning. Acquiring INATT. “It’s not about the
knowledge naturally, without a technology.” Shorthand for “it’s
curriculum. Often unscheduled and people that matter.”
rarely graded. Performance is its
measure of evaluation.
Jimmy Swaggart Syndrome.
People who excel at something are
often overcompensating for their
Performance support. own perceived shortcomings.
Embedding knowledge in work to Corrupt preachers selflessly set out
enable unknowledgeable people to to save us from their sins. Most
perform without learning. learning gurus have learning
disorders. Do-gooder politicians are
usually corrupt. Ask someone how
Problem. Self-limiting vantage they are helping the world, and they
point for looking at a situation that will tell you how they are helping
presupposes one knows the Un-anything. themselves.
domain for making things better. Re-conceptualizing a traditional
form such as a meeting or
conference to more directly serve
the wishes of its participants.
Money. If a fellow tells you it’s
not about the money, it’s the
principle of the thing, it’s about the
Complex adaptive systems. Learning. The acquisition of
The root cause of everything. The skills & knowledge. More
results of the interplay of complex meaningful when the skills &
adaptive systems are knowledge lasted a lifetime. The Timing. The first 90% of a job
unpredictable. world is changing so rapidly today takes 90% of the time; the
that adaptation is a more useful remaining 10% of the job takes the
way to think about things. other 90% of the time.
ADDIE. Rigid design model that IT. Organization that minimizes
enables government agencies to risk in systems by minimizing user
abandon systems thinking in favor choice, linkage to outside
of contract simplificaiton. environments, and
ROI. Literally, Return on
Control. Frequently, an Investment. Often abused by
oversimplification of the results valuing intangibles at zero.
cause-and-effect. I don’t have enough time.
Statement of your individual
Book. One-way means of sharing Curriculum. The subject matter
information, while freezing it at a of formal education. Pre-supposes
point in time and cutting the author learner choice.
eLearning. Meaningless term.
out of the feedback loop, at the Opportunities for learning offered
expense of trees. or supported electronically.
Grades. The measure of
individual accomplishment in
Portal. Doorway or entrance. In school. Outside of schools, a
computer lore, a portal is often a nearly random variable unrelated Program. An element that runs
one-way turnnstile that attempts to to wealth, happiness, power, or on a platform. (Why not go up a
trap users inside. success. level)?
Everything ﬂows. Everything’s connected. Meta
Without connections, there is no meaning. Nothing exists all on its lonesome. Treating
events as if they’re isolated from a broader context oversimpliﬁes reality. It’s a mental
short-cut that may save time but may also blind you to the broader situation.
When thinking about a project or event, I apply a simple
model to remind myself it’s part of a larger process. What
came before? What comes after?
This forces me to frame everything within in surroundings. Before
jumping to conclusions, I often go a step further. What’s up or down a
level from the one I’m on?
When we try to pick out
anything by itself, we ﬁnd it
hitched to everything else in
Internet Cultural Values
Honesty and authenticity. Simpler is better. The spirit of the
The values of the Internet Culture are the strongest foundation
net is to tell is like it is, to peel away the facade and be
upon which to evolve a next-generation learnscape.
authentic. “Be who you are!” suggested Nietsche. It’s easier
than faking it. In learning, being authentic means admitting that
Connections. Connections are everything. They create
we don’t have all the answers. It’s recognition that we’re all in
networks, and networks are growing exponentially. If your
this together. It’s hooking people up so they may learn from and
learning plans don’t embrace the power of networks, go back
with one another.
the drawing board for another look. Learning occurs in
conversations, collaboration, knowledge transfer, focused news,
Transparency. Seeing the inside of an organization enables us
and other network phenomena. A prime directive in any
to collaborate with them to make things better. People who
evolving learnscape is to increase the throughput of personal
hoard information shoot themselves in the foot; nobody will
network connections such as instant messenger, higher
know who they are. You’ve got to know an organization or
bandwidth, searchable directories, optimized organizational
person to form a relationship with them. You cannot make
channels, and water coolers, both virtual and real.
friends with someone hidden behind an opaque wall.
Push the edges. Twenty years ago, training departments
Perpetual beta. Nothing is ever finished. Hence, it’s better to
fretted about consistency: providing precisely the same training
put an unfinished offering out there before dotting the i’s and
experience to everyone in the organization. That’s not a good
crossing the t’s. He who hesitates for typos is lost. Do it, try it,
strategy for making money. In the old days, a hyper-proficient
fix it. Drive changes with feedback from learners themselves.
worker might outperform the average by twenty or thirty
More frequent reviews translate into less time invested in going
percent. Now that products are intangible, mindware knows no
down the wrong path. If someone says a project is finished, it is.
limits. Google figures a superlative engineer creates 200 times
as much value as his middle-tier peer. Back the superlative guy
The Long Tail. When it comes to learning opportunities, small
or gal, the wild ideas, and the weirdness of the new. Experiment
businesses, esoteric specialists, and fast-moving teams have
continuously. As IBM’s Tom Watson said, “If you want to
traditionally been short-changed. It wasn’t worth the effort. You
succeed, double your failure-rate.”
couldn’t reach critical mass. Now you can. Web technology
scales. Five-person companies use Salesforce.com for
Power to the peers. Networks subvert hierarchy. Users create
customer relationship management. Expect to see a learning
value and when information is plentiful, peers take over.
equivalent soon. As for the esoterica, distance no longer keeps
Abundant knowledge dethrones kings and fosters democracy. In
specialists from conversing with one another. Rich niches imply
a knowledge era, knowledge workers are the means of
that a need to assess upside opportunities more closely than
production. Forget command and control. Encourage bottom peers.
Knowledge workers want you to show them the dots but
demand that they connect them on their own. Think of learning
Loose coupling. A specific case is Cluetrain author David
as a partnership with the learners, not “delivery.”
Weinberger’s conceptualization of the web as “small pieces,
loosely joined.” I’ve been doing an increasing amount of my
Intangibles. More and more of the world’s wealth is intangible.
work on the web, and I am astounded how the ability to work
You can’t see patents, brands, good will, expertise, culture, and
with small chunks improves my productivity. What once took a
so forth, but they account for more and more of corporations’
rewrite now requires simply changing a link. No learning
value. Twenty-five years ago, intangible assets accounted for
environment need resist improvements until it bites the dust.
38% of the wealth of the Standard and Poors’s 500 companies.
What we once thought of as “maintenance” is becoming more
Forget about measuring only what’s visible to the naked eye,
important than the initial “deliverable.” Pieces of any system
(”ROI”) and begin assessing transfers of value. That’s where the
morph into plug-compatible chunks that can be swapped in and
smart money is headed.
out without disrupting the ecosystem. Changing a small item 27
Learnscaping does not require unpacking the whole apparatus.
Optimizing the benefits of people learning in organizations can’t be
realized within the confines of training departments. Well, perhaps
you can save a few dollars here and there, but the big payoff comes
from changes in attitude and corporate culture. Informal learning is
more a worldview than a specific intervention. Who’s in charge of
ripping out cubicles and installing pool tables? Things like that
undeniably increase informal learning but aren’t the responsibility of
the chief learning officer.
Informal learning is about situated action, collaboration, coaching,
and reflection, not study and reading. Developing a platform to Level 1 - Word of mouth
support informal learning is analogous to landscaping a garden. A 1. Open office structure
major component of informal learning is natural learning, the notion 2. Proximity and line of sight seating
of treating people as organisms in nature. Workers are free-range 3. Non-departmental seating
learners. Our role is to protect their environment, provide nutrients 4. Staff area with relevant magazines
for growth, and let nature take its course. Self-service learners are 5. Budget for staff get-togethers
connected to one another, to ongoing flows of information and work, 6. Brown bag lunches
to their teams and organizations, to their customers and markets, not 7. Book club/Budget for books on Amazon
to mention their families and friends.
Level 2 - Word of mouse
Informal learning is holistic. “It’s not my department is no excuse for 1. Skills database or profiles
suboptimal results or stressed-out workers. We must address 2. Intranet with workflow structure and linked learning
individuals, for helping everyone be all that they can be is not 3. Online quality system linked to workflow
charity; it’s good business. 4. EPSS software
6. Instant messenger
7. Discussion boards
from Donald Clark
Push and pull Meta
Push is a metaphor for imposing things on people; itʼs top-
down. Pull is a metaphor for free choice; itʼs bottom-up.
Push learning is mandated, formal, and curriculum-bounded.
Pull learning is self-service, collaborative, driven by
immediate need or curiosity, and unbounded.
Learning ecologies, not schools
At the point of being overwhelmed by repeated shotgun
blasts of infobits, learners are turning the gun around to hunt ... the best way to support learning is from the
down what they want. demand side rather than the supply side. That is,
rather than deciding ahead of time what a learner
They are selecting what mail, email, television programs, needs to know and making this explicitly available to
phone calls, and reports they want in their lives. the exclusion of everything else, designers and
instructors need to make available as much as
People will rely on systems and on other people for guidance possible of the whole rich web of practice-explicit and
in selecting what they want in this self-service environment. implicit-allowing the learner to call upon aspects of
practice, latent in the periphery, as they are needed.
An unpredictable world has no absolutes. Knowledge
management thought leader Denham Gray writes, “Pull is Stolen Knowledge,
good up to a point, but I suspect the really useful stuff, the by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid
key discoveries, will continue to come from the edges and
beyond, from outside your strong links, from the periphery.
What will be key is maintaining a ﬁne balance between self-
driven inquiry, network recommendations, individual foraging,
deep ʻlisteningʼ, awareness and critical review.”
Pull is something I go looking for. It attracts
Push is something that comes looking for
me. I want it. I go to the store or the site to
me. Itʼs my growing stack of email. Itʼs
ﬁnd it. I request it. I assess my needs so I
spam, pop-ups, corporate memos, and
(and perhaps others) know what I am after. I
homework assignments. Itʼs information glut.
get it or have it delivered to me.
It arrives on its own.
The natural evolution of
Metcalfeʼs Law posits that value of a network grows
exponentially with the addition of new nodes. Left
unfettered, networks reproduce like rabbits on high-octane
Think, for example, of the hyper growth of the internet, the
web, MySpace, YouTube, and Facebook. Once social
networks take hold, expect them to grow like topsy,.
Moreover, the denser the network, the faster its cycle time.
More connections make it quicker to get from one node to
Imagine how this can happen in an organization. The ﬁrst
nodes appear as the company experiments with a few
small projects such as coordinating online project groups
or making it easier to ﬁnd information with a “Wikipedia
inside.” New hires are accustomed to going wherever they
wish in a network; imagine that they begin communicating
between silos. HR realizes that the company-pedia can
accelerate on-boarding new employees. Customer service
improves as everyone gains access to corporate
resources such as who does what and how to ﬁnd them.
Replacing multiple versions with a single source of
information cuts bureaucracy and chops email volume
back. The growth of corporate connections feeds on itself.
The online presentation of this is a lot easier to understand
Continues on next page
Network Effects Learnscaping
Cycle time Information glut Volatility
The denser its Interdependence
you must keep up with
connections, the faster amplifies the impacts of
the network. change.
Business migrates to services
Value migrates to intangibles
The Long Tail replaces the normal
The Long Tail
Value came from the few...
Limited learning Most value
...and has moved to the many
provided Most value
Clay Shirky writes that, “I am old enough to know that
newspapers are where you get your political news and how
you look for a job. I know that music comes from stores. I
know that if you want to have a conversation with someone,
you call them on the phone. I know that complicated things
like software and encyclopedias have to be created by
professionals. In the last fifteen years, I’ve had to unlearn
every one of those things and a million others, because they
have stopped being true.”
“I’ve become like the grown-ups arguing in my local paper
about calculators; just as it took them a long time to realize
that calculators were never going away, those of us old
enough to remember a time before social tools became widely
available are constantly playing catch-up. Meanwhile my
students, many of whom are fifteen years younger than I am,
don’t have to unlearn those things, because they never had to
learn them in the first place.”
Here Comes Everybody
Pick a few symbols of the world of work when you joined it.
What was it like back then?
Then do the same for today. Reflect on the changes.
And here’s the tricky part: cast off vestigial beliefs and habits
that no longer serve their purpose.
Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is an approach to building systems Tools
where the fundamental building blocks are connections. A software architect
begins by deﬁning the interfaces between business processes. Once these The Parrot
are solid and interoperable, the business process can change without
screwing up the whole system. A man and a parrot sit next to each other in a plane. The service in the
plane is really bad, the man hasnʼt had a drink for hours and heʼs
starting to dehydrate. The parrot on the other hand is getting drink
This is important to understand, and I'm not doing the best job at it, so I'll after drink by the harrowed cabin crew. Each time the parrot orders a
draw an analogy. Before loose coupling, the buzz-phrase for common drink it does so with a lot of cursing and shouting.
interface standards wired to some process behind it, corporate IT
applications were hard-wired to one another. Each M&M here is a separate The man decides to follow the same tactic and starts shouting. Hey,
business process: bitch get me a whiskey! To his surprise he gets his whiskey and
follows through with the same tactic.
With loose coupling, processes (or services) are separable at the Soon, both man and parrot outdo each other in shouting and insults
interfaces. We treat each process as a free-standing bundle and insert new until the cabin crew has had enough. They grab the man and parrot
connections between them. Each process becomes plug-and-play. and throw them out of the plane. Now both of them are plummeting
towards the ground below when the parrot says to the man: Boy, for
You can see what's coming. If I want to outsource a service, all I need to do someone who can't ﬂy you sure do curse a lot.
is unplug it. In fact, I could create a business process model that replicated
the service, and do what-if analysis until I hit on the best conﬁguration of
services to achieve my objectives.
The prevailing business wisdom is that you should do what you're good at and
hand off the rest. Thirty years ago, companies programmed their own accounts
payable applications; now they all rely on someone else to do that.
Fifteen years ago, companies ran their own payroll; now they hand it off to ADP.
The trend to handing off anything that's not your core expertise is growing. SOA
and Web Services will make it hard to resist a smoothly interoperable service
managed by someone for whom it's core.
Aﬁcionados of IT feel SOA is inevitable is because it provides:
Vendor independence, no lock-in
Standardization: it worked for the Internet, didn't it?
Modularity and granularity: like in the old days, when audiophiles were
forever swapping amps and speakers in and out of their systems to
achieve the optimal sound
Reusability: to avoid reinventing the wheel
Lower Costs: from standardization, integration breed efﬁciency
Loose coupling, that enables one to take one step at a time and to stay in
Reduced brittleness: because problems are contained before they hit the
Scalability: because, like on the Web, one-to-many relationships replace
Strategic innovation (e.g. Open Source)
Software Stack Businesses have streamlined, re-engineered,
and re-furbished every aspect of what they do
with one exception: management.
The practice of management today reveres the
rules and beliefs that were invented to run
textile factories and railroads.
Do not over-control
Don’t tell me Organizations
When we deal with others, control is often superfluous. The best
policy for managing knowledge workers is to get up on what to do!
managing them. Inspire them instead.
Managers Coaches need to give people challenges and very
broad boundaries to operate within. It’s analogous to a child’s
puzzle. Give people the dots but let them connect them for
themselves. Managers have build up elaborate rituals to double
check their people are connecting the dots in the proper
sequence. Cruft accumulates on the simplest of processes,
obscuring their original meaning.
Kevin Wheeler shared a story that provides a solid example: A
new manager found herself fielding the usual headaches of
dealing with “managed” workers. Some complained of having
too much to do. Others had finished what they were working on
and asked what to do next. Projects were falling behind
schedule. People were not happy. The manager was called
away for a month-long business trip. She called everyone into a
conference room. They brainstormed lists of what needed to be
accomplished while the manager was away. They left with an
understanding of what needed to be done but no individual
assignments for doing it. When the manager returned, the group
had exceeded all expectation. All the projects were
accomplished. People were proud of their achievement. The
manager learned that her job was to set direction and then get
out of people’s way so they could do it. Many managers spend
Tell knowledge workers
too much time managing.
what you need done, not
how to do it.
Give them the dots; let
them fill in the lines by
Learnscaping themselves. 38
What do CEOs want?
the Enterprise of the Future
The Enterprise of the Future radically challenges its business model,
The Enterprise of the Future is capable of changing quickly and disrupting the basis of competition. It shifts the value proposition,
successfully. Instead of merely responding to trends, it shapes and overturns traditional delivery approaches and, as soon as opportunities
leads them. Market and industry shifts are a chance to move ahead arise, reinvents itself and its entire industry.
of the competition.
The Enterprise of the Future surpasses the expectations of increasingly
demanding customers. Deep collaborative relationships allow it
to surprise customers with innovations that make both its customers
and its own business more successful.
IBM Global CEO Study 2008
Changing focus of learning
In a leisurely-paced world, the past is
a good guide to the future. Corporate
learning focused on what has
In a fast-moving world, corporate learning must deal
with issues as they come. Individuals need draw their
own lessons. The learning professional must build
great roads, not give directions to specific locations.
Nurturing informal learning
People learn their work by observing colleagues, trying
things out, engaging in conversation and so forth, not by
attending training classes and workshops. Exploring how
that happens in corporations was the major theme of my
last book, Informal Learning, Rediscovering the Natural
Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance. x2
When readers reﬂected on how they mastered their own
jobs, they discovered that sure enough, most corporate
learning is informal. They also agreed that corporations
invest in formal learning, while letting informal learning fall
through the cracks. No oneʼs accountable; there are no chief
informal learning ofﬁcers; informal learning has been an
Learnscape Architecture: Getting Things Done in
Organizations, examines what corporations can do to
improve informal learning. Outsized returns are not assured,
Spending Learning but it makes for an intriguing possibility, doesnʼt it?
Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire
Innovation and Performance, made the point that while most corporate
learning is informal, most corporate investment goes into formal learning. Organizations can do to all sorts of things to nurture informal
learning and get things done. They canʼt “manage” informal
learning directly, but they can actively nurture it. Knowledge
organizations can think their way to operating efﬁciencies,
innovative production, and unsurpassed service. How to do that is
the topic of this un-book.
Learning = making good connections
Networks are everywhere. Cognition
Our era could well be called The Age of Networks. Humanity is awakening
to the realization that everything’s connected. If something’s not a node,
it’s a connection. Each of us is enmeshed in social, communications,
information, and neural networks. Furthermore, our bodies and brains are
networks. Scientists are still conceptualizing the human protocol stack but
they affirm that our personal neural intranets share a common topology
with those of chimps and other animals. Maybe recognizing that people
are more similar than different from, say, squirrels, will rid us of the silly
notion that mind and body operate separately. Learning is a whole body
For the most part, we are unaware of the firewall that filters the
connections between our personal neural nets and the teeming mass of
networks on the other side. Many people have failed to change the default
settings their personal firewalls came with, even though the factory-
installed settings haven’t been upgraded since 1 million B.C. Without
changing our mental macro libraries, we continually snap into flee or fight
mode. Being alert to minute movements is a survival skill on the savannah
but not in the executive office.
The point of learning is to prosper within our chosen communities. Learning
enables us to enjoy relationships and knowledge. Learning involves exploring
new ground, making discoveries, and clearing paths that let us go deeper. To
learn is to optimize one’s networks. Taking advantage of the double meaning of
the word “network,” learning is making good connections.
Designers of learning environments can borrow tools and techniques from
network engineers. They would focus on such things as:
Improving signal/noise ratio
Installing fat pipes for backbone connections
Pruning worthless & dead material
Promoting standards for interoperability 42
Get rid of what Learn what you
you don’t need need to know
Get rid of what Unlearn what’s
you once needed obsolete
but no more
Aspects of Informal Learning s
Informal learning does not have to be a happy accident. You can prepare
the soil to encourage it to take root.
No one has time. Life on earth is faster, faster, faster. We are inundated
with information, showered with technological innovation, and pestered
by multiple media 24/7. Business is a blur. Life is uncertain. People are
stressed. Work is hell. Its time to do something about this new way of
A woman with a watch knows what time it is; a woman with two does not.
Most of us wear some watches set to agrarian age time, others to
industrial age time, and yet others to internet time. Our bodies, our
workgroups, our families, our employers, and our global environment are
out of sync. Our lives are incoherent because our worlds are changing
faster than we are.
Nothing is more important to business success than the knowledge and
know-how of workers. In the industrial era, managements role was
showing workers what to do. In the knowledge era, workers want to learn
but hate to be trained; telling them how to do something insults their
Study after study finds that workers get 80% of their job know-how
informally. The choice is whether they do it well or to do it poorly.
Important as it is, informal learning doesn’t show up on the corporate
radar because it isn’t recorded in industrial-age charts of account. No
one has a budget for it, but organizations that fail to leverage informal
learning leave buckets of money on the table. In a knowledge era, it is
irresponsible to disregard the prime means of creating, sharing, and
replenishing intellectual capital.
Informal learning is effective because it is personal. The individual calls
the shots. The learner is responsible. Its real. Its self-service. It is the The shaded boxes on this and the following four pages review
major concepts of Informal Learning.
only thing that will work with the digital natives now entering the
In the past, learning focused on what was in an individual’s head. The
individual took the test, got the degree, or earned the certificate. The
new learning focuses on what it takes to do the job right. That includes
the business environment, workflow, colleagues, partners, and
Accelerating change Free-Range Learning
Knowledge workers demand respect for who they are. Learning is successful adaptation to change. Informal and formal
They thrive when given the freedom to decide how learning are the end-points of a continuum. On one end, formal
they will do what you ask them to. They rise or fall to learning is like riding a bus: the driver decides where the bus is
meet expectations. We need to set those expectations going; the passengers are along for the ride. On the opposite end,
and then get out of the way. informal learning is like riding a bike: the rider chooses the
destination, the speed, and the route. The rider can take a detour
Training, development, knowledge management, at a moments notice, to admire the scenery or go to the bathroom.
performance support, informal learning, mentoring, and
knowing are all components of performance networks. Informal learning happens out of class. There’s no curriculum and
Networks expand or die. Linking nodes distributes no certificate of completion. It goes on all the time. Informal
information and power. Networks subvert hierarchy. learning includes things like trying and failing, asking a neighbor,
The flatter the organization, the denser its reading a book, or watching television. Informal learning is how we
interconnections, and the faster its throughput. learn about life. Its how we make sense of things.
Humans exist in networks. We belong to social Formal learning–riding the bus–is great for novices. Its useful to
networks. Our heads contain neural networks. have help getting the lay of the land and getting to the destination.
Learning consists of making and maintaining better Training departments are very talented at setting up bus lines.
connections to our networks, be they social,
operational, commercial or entertainment. Informal learning, what the bicyclists do, is most appropriate for
people who already know the territory. They want tips on the new
A superlative engineer can be 250 times more short cuts and the essence of a topic. They want what they want,
productive than an average performer! Making a great to plug the holes in their knowledge, and they wont sit still for bus
performer better gives more bang for the buck than rides to their destinations. Training departments don’t devote much
moving an average performer up a notch. Its a human effort to helping cyclists.
Heres the irony: The cyclists are the high performers. Raising their
performance 5% blows the roof off. (Whereas raising the
performance of novices 5% doesn’t even register.) When it comes
to learning, most corporations are spending the most money where
Unconferences it will do the least good.
Business meetings used to come in one flavor: dull. New Some training departments justify treating everyone as a bus
approaches create meetings that people enjoy, often organized in passenger by saying that works for novices and the old pros. This
scant time and at minimal cost. Unconferences are characterized is flat-out wrong. The bike riders will always find a reason not to
by: take the ride. Workers with the most upside potential rarely receive
any focused learning at all.
No keynote speaker or designated expert
Breakthrough thinking born of diversity
Having fun dealing with serious subjects
Genuine community, intimacy and respect
Networks facilitate virtually all learning. It has become trite to
point out that the e doesn’t matter, and that its the learning that
counts. I don’t think the learning counts for much either; what’s
important is the doing that results from learning.
People do not know what they like; they like what they know. Internet Inside
For example, many assume that face-to-face instruction is the
one best way to teach and that online learning is inherently Ten years ago, most business executives saw no value in the Internet
inferior. They seek ways for online initiatives to support the beyond cheaper communications. CIO magazines December 1994 issue
high-grade face-to-face experience. Capella University turns sheepishly proposed not to laud the future of electronic commerce nor to
this view on its head, asking what face-to-face support is cheerlead the creation of a great national network that, like Godot, may
required to supplement online learning. never materialize.
Blended is a transitory term that reminds us to look at learning Since then, the internet has taught us:
challenges from many directions. It makes computer-only
training look ridiculous. It drives us to pick the right tools to get Time trumps perfection. In the old days, training wasn’t released until it
the job done. passed through a gauntlet of editors, proofreaders, packagers, double-
checkers and worrywarts. Everything is a work in progress. If its not
finished, label it draft or beta, but don’t hold it up.
Online networks facilitate personal connections. The internet enables
Getting Better at Getting Better one to rely on the kindness of strangers. Hundreds of people I didn’t know
before have helped me learn; I keep my karma account in balance by
Getting better at getting better is an evolutionary challenge. You don’t helping others learn. The internet even enables you to talk with your heroes
get there by taking one step at a time. Rather, you set up millions of if you’re daring enough.
little experiments, let em rip, and see what you end up with.
To learn something, teach it. The internet empowers each of us to express
Meta-learning focuses on improving the process of learning, including ourselves publicly. Sharing ideas is both selfish and generous. Explaining
how people learn, barriers to learning, and improving the learning of something online clarifies your thinking and reinforces your own learning.
both individuals and organizations.
Its a small world after all. Around the world in 80 milliseconds. Wow! With
You’re going to spend your entire life learning so you might as well Skype, you can talk with people all over the globe through Voice over IP
get good at it. Embracing mindfulness is your first step. You’ll need to (VoIP). For free.
be flexible, to look at things through different lenses, to reflect on what
you see, to try new things, to run thought experiments, and to pay Me-learning. Dr. Google and Professor Amazon have taught me a lot more
attention. A mindful person often cuts off the mindless auto-pilot of than four years of honors studies at an Ivy League college. Why? For one
aimless living to follow Nietzsche’s advice to “Become who you are!” thing, I’ve forgotten more calculus, Wittgenstein, physics, Nietzsche, and
French than I’ll ever know because I was driven by someone else’s agenda
Informal learning is natural. It occurs when we treat people and rather than my own.
organizations as organisms in nature.
Thinking is a skill. You get better at it with practice. People confuse
thinking with intelligence. Bad mistake, for it leads intelligent people to
squander their potential by not learning to think.
What’s wrong with this picture? Organizations
At the turn of the century, my vision of corporate learning put the learner at the center of
resources that included the web, online learning activities, communities of practice, an intranet,
and instructor-led training. My thinking has changed. Can you guess several ways I would re-
draw the picture today?
Groups, not grades
Grades in school do not predict success in life.
Students from the bottom of the class are just as
likely to be wealthy, happy, and powerful as those
from the top. You would think that honors
students would do better in life solely on the basis
of the self-conﬁdence that results from years of
being told they are great. It doesnʼt work that way.
Outside of school systems, grades are
The center should contain more than one person. People don’t learn much in isolation. meaningless. Tall people earn more money; Phi
Beta Kappas do not.
For the most part, learning is social. Thinking of the learner as an individual is a legacy of the
machine-age. The manager in the factory says “Just do what you are told. You are not paid to How can this be? Itʼs because grades measure
think. Don’t waste your time and ours talking to your co-workers; they should be doing what they individual performance. Acquiring wealth, ﬁnding
are told, too.” happiness, and exercising power depend on
working with others. Taking tests is solo; living is
Childhood schooling mimics the factory. Study on your own. No talking during class. social.
Collaborating to accomplish the job is called cheating. Grades measure individual performance.
In school, a loner can finish at the top of the class; at work, loners are losers. And so it is in business and organizations. Work
is social; performance is social; learning is social.
Because most people are now knowledge workers, learning is the work. Treating learning and People donʼt do things in isolation (except in
work as though they are separate is wrong-headed. Schools wall themselves off to protect their school), so letʼs give up on the notion of training
students from the distractions of the real world. Business managers know in their gut that taking individuals and embrace learning with others.
workers off the job in order to learn defies common sense. The separation of workplace and
classroom has tainted the word learning. What’s most important is know how to do the job well.
Remote islands in distant seas, once cut off from the rest of the world, are now plugged into the
global grid. They read the New York Times at the same time as the rest of us. Nothing exists in
isolation. The learning community, the individual, the intranet, the chat groups, and everything
else in the picture are connected to one another. We’re looking at a network; functional networks
do not have a center.
Learning often occurs via conversation, trial-and-error, mimicry, discovery, sharing, and
collaboration. Ten years ago, I left them out. Now I know better.
How People Learn
Learning is so easy that even a Curiosity. Mimicry.
child can do it. Wonder.
Adults learn the same way
children do. Often the best way
to nurture learning is to get out
of its way.
When critics tell me “informal
learning doesn’t work,” I ask
them how they learned to Exploration.
speak, to walk, and to act like Discovery. Conversation.
Learning is something people
do. Training is something you
do to people. Natural learning is
self-service, not imposed.
How People Learn Culture Learning patterns
Open Process orientation
Self-confident RSS at CGI
Doer Sharing: Intelpedia
Discovery. Dots Blogs: Company Command
Taking Idea jams
How People Learn Culture Learning patterns
Mimicry. Social media: Facebook
Conversation. Locators: Blue Pages
Connections Online meeting spaces
Collaboration. Partnering SAP Developer Network
Community March of Dimes
Learning is knowing how
Learning is adaptation.
Flexibility, self-efﬁcacy, ﬁt.
Learning is preparation
for innovation. Future ﬁt.
· Learning to know (savoir)
· Learning to do (faire) (technical skills)
· Learning to be (etre) (personal skills for self-direction, guidance)
· Learning to live together (vivre esemble) (community action)
Canadian Council on Learning
1. LEARNING IS FUNDAMENTALLY SOCIAL
The choice between learning and social fulﬁllments—a choice that dominates
most schools and many workplaces—should never arise.
2. KNOWLEDGE IS INTEGRATED IN THE LIFE OF COMMUNITIES
Knowledge, activity and social relations are closely intertwined, whether in
families, scientiﬁc communities, jump rope groups, jazz bands or design teams.
United by a common enterprise, people come to develop and share ways of
doing things, ways of talking, beliefs, values—in short, practices—as a function
of their joint involvement in mutual activity. We call such informal aggregations
communities of practice, because they are deﬁned not only by their membership,
but by shared ways of doing things. Every individual belongs to, and seeks
membership in, many communities of practice. In communities of practice,
social relations form around activities, activities take shape through relationships,
and particular kinds of knowledge and expertise become part of individuals’
identities and places in the community. Because shared knowledge underlies this
activity, learning is the means by which people gain membership, and participate
in community activity.
3. LEARNING IS AN ACT OF MEMBERSHIP.
Learning is not just the activity of a sole individual, but the primary vehicle for
engagement with others.
4. KNOWING IS ENGAGEMENT IN PRACTICE.
Only in the classroom is knowledge presented in the abstract, and only in the
classroom are people expected to demonstrate knowledge through abstract
5. ENGAGEMENT IS INSEPARABLE FROM EMPOWERMENT.
Individuals perceive their identities in terms of their ability to contribute—and in
terms of their contributions—to a community.
6. “FAILURE” TO LEARN IS THE NORMAL RESULT OF EXCLUSION
Learning requires access and opportunity.
7. WE ALREADY HAVE A SOCIETY OF LIFELONG LEARNERS.
People are learning all the time, but what they are learning is not necessarily in
their best interests or in the best interests of society.
Two schools of thought
Best practices for learning
People learn best when they... Know what's in it for them and
deem it relevant
* Understand what's expected
* Connect with other people
* Are challenged to make choices
* Feel safe about showing what they do and do not know
* Control the pace, navigation, and delivery
* Use a process that matches their preferred learning style
* Receive information in small packets
* Receive frequent progress reports
* Learn things close to the time they need them
* Receive encouragement from coaches or mentors
* Learn from a variety of styles
* Confront maybes instead of certainties
* Teach others
* Can ﬁlter out the superﬂuous
* Receive positive reinforcement for small victories
* Screw up
* Try, try, and try again
* Just do it
These are also great practices for working. 53
Learning: proven facts
1. Spaced practice Cognition
Perhaps the most significant fact we know about learning, yet it is almost
completely ignored by the 'curse of the course and classroom'. We learn
through practice, little and often. We forget things quickly. The most effective
way to prevent this forgetting is to practice at spaced intervals over time.
Knowledge is easy to learn but hard to retain. Forget this and you condemn
yourself to, at best to unnecessary effort in learning, at worst failing to learn
much at all – the true story behind most learning effort.
2. Cognitive overload
This well know phenomenon is extremely common in teaching and training. A
lack of understanding about how memory works leads to a lack of preparation
of material in terms of size, order and engagement, leading to weak encoding,
a lack of deep processing then poor retention and recall. Almost all courses
are too long, present material in the wrong way and lead to unnecessary 7. Context
forgetting. Simplify to prevent cognitive overload. We know that recall is enhanced by learning in the physical context in
which one is expected to perform. Yet most teaching is done in alien
3. Chunking environments – classrooms ad training centers. We have plenty of proof
Perhaps the easiest and simplest piece of learning theory to put into practice. that work-placed learning needs to be massively increased and non-
Chunking means being sensitive to the limitation of working memory. Less is contextual classroom teaching decreased.
more in learning and distilling, rather than enhancing, elaborating and creating
lots of distracting noise, is a virtue in teaching. Unfortunately the ‘song and 8. Learn by doing
dance’ act in the classroom is often cacophonous. From William James and John Dewy through to Kolb and Schank, we’ve
had a torrent of theory showing that we learn lots by doing, yet much
4. Order teaching and training is locked into a over-theoretical, knowledge and
The order you learn things is critical to how they will be stored and recalled, not skills, model. There is a barely a subject around in schools ad
yet education and training continues to jumble and confuse content. This is training that wouldn’t benefit from a boost in experiential learning.
critical in language learning, science, maths and indeed, every subject. Learn
things in the wrong order and you’ll end up having to unlearn. 9. Understand ‘peer’ groups
The work of Judith Harris (The Nurture Assumption) will change the
5. Episodic and semantic memory whole way you look at parenting and teaching. Her revolutionary
Once you understand that the things we learn are stored differently, i.e. we scientific work showed that most books on parenting and teaching
have different types of memory, then you’ll be more sensitive to the necessary overestimate the influence of parents and teachers, and under-estimate
differences in teaching. We still have far too much reliance on text (semantic) the role of genetics and peer pressure. There are some real and
for subjects that need a visual (episodic) approach. You see this everywhere, practical steps one can take to avoid the obvious traps. These are
from text heavy PowerPoints to whiteboards, manuals and hand-outs. largely ignored in education and training. Read the book.
6. Psychological attention 10. Murder the myths
Learning does not take place without psychological attention, so setting up This is perhaps the most useful piece of scientific advice for teachers
classrooms and scenarios that inhibit attention, or distract from learning, is and trainers – dump the snake-oil techniques. These include learning
massively counter-productive. I fear that much so called ‘collaborative styles, playing music while you learn, Brain Gym, left-right brain theories,
learning’ falls into this trap. Cramming 30 plus teenagers into a small, airless NLP, stating the objectives at the start of a course…the list goes on.
classroom is no way to encourage attention. There are at least 30 other
human distractions, the windows and daydreaming to content with. The
bottom line is that most learning is best done on your own or one-to-one. Source: Donald Clark’s Plan B
Principles of Unschooling
By Pam Sorooshian
Learning happens all the time. The brain never stops working and it is not possible to
divide time up into learning periods versus non-learning periods. Everything that
goes on around a person, everything they hear, see, touch, smell, and taste, results in
learning of some kind.
Learning does not require coercion. In fact, learning cannot really be forced against
someone's will. Coercion feels bad and creates resistance.
Learning feels good. It is satisfying and intrinsically rewarding. Irrelevant rewards can Pam Sorooshian and learners
have unintended side effects that do not support learning.
Learning stops when a person is confused. All learning must build on what is already
Learning becomes difficult when a person is convinced that learning is difficult.
Unfortunately, most teaching methods assume learning is difficult and that lesson is the
one that is really taught to the students. Intended for unschooling children,
these principles apply equally well to
Learning must be meaningful. When a person doesn't see the point, when they don't adults.
know how the information relates or is useful in the real world, then the learning is
superficial and temporary - not real learning.
Learning is often incidental. This means that we learn while engaged in activities that
we enjoy for their own sakes and the learning happens as a sort of side benefit.
Learning is often a social activity, not something that happens in isolation from
others. We learn from other people who have the skills and knowledge we're interested
in and who let us learn from them in a variety of ways.
We don't have to be tested to find out what we've learned. The learning will be
demonstrated as we use new skills and talk knowledgeably about a topic,
Feelings and intellect are not in opposition and not even separate things. All
learning involves the emotions, as well as the intellect.
Learning requires a sense of safety. Fear blocks learning. Shame and
embarrassment, stress and anxiety - these block learning. A grasshopper walks into a bar and orders a beer.
Bartender: You know we have a drink named after you.
Grasshopper: Why would you have a drink named Bob?
Varieties of Learning Experience
Learning is not one activity. It’s a
Emotional Know who dog’s breakfast of acquiring skills,
information, knowledge, savoir faire,
and more. The common
Know how denominator is that learning is
enables the learner to function
Cognitive Know where better in his or her environment.
Social/EI For example:
• learning to talk
• learning to crawl
• learning your ABCs
• learning to fear the number 13
DNA, innate, inherited
• learning to meditate
• learning to speak French
• learning the way to the store
• learning who to trust
• learning with my pal Sally
• learning how to sell
• learning Ruby on Rails
• learning where the answers are
Learning is adaptation. • learning to negotiate
• learning to play piano
• learning to rollerblade
• learning to taste wine critically
• learning to cook bread
Learnscaping • learning to lead effectively
The Learning Organization Litmus Test
How do you know if your company is a learning organization? These simple litmus tests can help determine
whether or not your company qualifies:
Does the organization have a defined learning agenda?
Learning organizations have a clear picture of their future knowledge requirements. They know what they need
to know, whether the subject is customers, competitors, markets, technologies, or production processes, and
are actively pursuing the desired information. Even in industries that are changing as rapidly as
telecommunications, computers, and financial services, broad areas of needed learning can usually be
mapped with some precision. Once they have been identified, these topics are pursued through multiple
approaches, including experiments, simulations, research studies, post-audits, and benchmarking visits, rather
than education and training alone.
Is the organization open to discordant information?
If an organization regularly “shoots the messenger” who brings forward unexpected or bad news, the
environment is clearly hostile to learning. Behavior change is extremely difficult in such settings, for there are
few challenges to the status quo. Sensitive topics — dissension in the ranks, unhappy customers, preemptive
moves by competitors, problems with new technologies — are considered to be off limits, and messages are
filtered, massaged, and watered down as they make their way up the chain of command.
Does the organization avoid repeated mistakes?
Learning organizations reflect on past experience, distill it into useful lessons, share the knowledge internally,
and ensure that errors are not repeated elsewhere. Databases, intranets, training sessions, and workshops
can all be used for this purpose. Even more critical, however, is a mind-set that enables companies to
recognize the value of productive failure as contrasted with unproductive success. A productive failure leads to
insights, understanding, and thus an addition to commonly held wisdom of the organization. And unproductive
success occurs when something goes well, but nobody knows how or why. There is a peculiar logic at work
here: to avoid repeating mistakes, managers must learn to accept them the first time around.
Does the organization lose critical knowledge when key people leave?
The story is all too common: a talented employee leaves the company, and critical skills disappear as well.
Why? Because crucial knowledge was tacit, unarticulated, and unshared, locked in the head of a single
person. Learning organizations avoid this problem by institutionalizing essential knowledge. Whenever
possible, they codify it in policies or procedures, retain it in reports or memos, disperse it to large groups of
people, and build it into the company’s values, norms, and operating practices. Knowledge becomes common
property, rather than the province of individuals or small groups.
Does the organization act on what it knows?
Learning organizations are not simply repositories of knowledge. They take advantage of their new learning
and adapt their behavior accordingly. Information is to be used; if it languishes or is ignored, its impact is
certain to be minimal. By this test, an organization that discovers an unmet market need but fails to fill it does
not qualify as a learning organization, nor does a company that identifies its own best practices but is unable
to transfer them across departments or divisions. 57
I’ve seen these patterns change hardcore meth addicts into
model citizens. It’s at the heart of every successful drug rehab
program. It’s not a bad proxy for changing corporate behavior
in a big way as well.
substitute for user meetings
24/7 help learn from/with others
Sponsor coach Group positive reinforcement
Self partnership, not co-dependence
healthy self image Family & understanding & education
maintain connections maintain hope
ever alert to temptations friends help one another
behavior congruent with values
Organization as ecosystem
Everyone is in this together. Do not pollute.
As the organizationʼs use of collaborative software crosses the chasm
from specialty item to important business process, focus shifts to
keeping collaboration vibrant, disseminating lessons learned, and
informally benchmarking performance.
Companies that have made the transition suggest these practices for
maintaining momentum after initial enthusiasm wears thin:
Dismantle roadblocks to collaboration.
Make the goal and ground rules clear at the outset
Structure the initial framework to ﬁt the task
Make the online environment attracting and inviting
Pre-load templates, background info, defaults
Provide emotional support for newcomers
Delegate responsibility for keeping the ball rolling to the team
Rely on self-regulation
Market the service: publicity, seed with enthusiasts, contests
Incentives to get things ramped up
Report results at least quarterly
Reclaiming our freedom to learn
Gustavo Esteva was an IBM executive and adviser to the president of Mexico
before joining the guerrilla freedom fighters in Chiapas. Several years ago he had
to bow out of a meeting with a group of us because the rebel leader
Subcommandante Marcos was in town and needed Gustavo’s advice.
“We learn better when nobody is teaching us. We can observe this in every baby
and in our own experience. Our vital competence comes from learning by doing,
without any kind of teaching.”
The people in the villages know very well that school prevents their children from
learning what they need to know to continue living in their communities, contributing
to the common well-being and that of their soils, their places. And school does not
prepare them for life or work outside the community.
After the exercise, a very practical question came to the table. We have learned,
with the Zapatistas, that while changing the world is very difficult, perhaps
impossible, it is possible to create a whole new world. That is exactly what the
Zapatistas are doing in the south of Mexico. How can we create our own new world,
at our own, small, human scale, in our little corner in Oaxaca? How can we
deschool our lives and those of our children in this real world, where the school still
dominates minds, hearts and institutions?
The most dramatic lesson we derived from the exercise was to discover what we
were really missing in the urban setting: conditions for apprenticeship. When we all
request education and institutions where our children and young people can stay
and learn, we close our eyes to the tragic social desert in which we live. They have
no access to real opportunities to learn in freedom. In many cases, they can no
longer learn with parents, uncles, grandparents—just talking to them, listening to
their stories or observing them in their daily trade. Everybody is busy, going from
one place to another. No one seems to have the patience any more to share with
the new generation the wisdom accumulated in a culture. Instead of education,
what we really need is conditions for decent living, a community.
In Unitierra we have been fruitfully following a suggestion of Paul Goodman, a
friend of, and source of inspiration for, Ivan Illich. Goodman once said: “Suppose
you had the revolution you are talking and dreaming about. Suppose your side won,
and you had the kind of society you wanted. How would you live, you personally, in
that society? Start living that way now! Whatever you would do then, do it now.
When you run up against obstacles, people, or things that won’t let you live that
way, then begin to think about how to get over or around or under that obstacle, or
how to push it out of the way, and your politics will be concrete and practical.”
Getting Started with Online Collaboration
Collaboration is about building relationships that foster ideas, intentions, and
interests. Coworkers learn and inspire one another. They build on each another’s
ideas. Small groups of them can move mountains. A collaborative enterprise with
shared values and common purpose can change the world. Why wait? Start right
People working together create much more value than the same people working
in independently. Working with others also boosts morale, for it’s more fulfilling
emotionally. Until recently, collaboration was not easy, especially when distance
was involved. People didn’t have access to the information they needed and
couldn’t figure out who was the right person to contact.
Those barriers are fading fast. Software and networks that support collaboration
are readily available and cheap, too. Workers complain about silos; social
networks walk through silo walls.
Companies are losing customers disgusted with unhelpful help desks, phone
labyrinths, and not understanding what’s going on. The web’s transparency and
self-service are the cure.
Senior management wants to see organization-wide innovation. Building
communities that value authenticity, courage, and taking risks are a step toward
Today’s web offers an embarrassment of riches. Online collaboration improves
operations, supports strategy, and creates a limber enterprise. Organizations
have so many choices, it’s hard to figure out where to begin.
What’s in it for you? Pick an area that resonates with what your organization
needs to accomplish:
Start with something easy Fast, free, industrial-strength web software makes it
easy to prototype. You need not be a programmer to try it. Don’t obsess. Do
Participants have a shared need.
It’s easy for participants to see what’s in it for them.
The information involved is not controversial.
Amelia Earhart: The most
A sound business case can be made.
effective way to do it is to do it.
Stand-alone implementation is feasible
The project will make a good example when seeking support for other
Learning Ecosystem Principles
Clear roadblocks to natural learning
Tap power of communities and social networks
Supplement formal learning with coaching etc.
Actively experiment with learning performance
support, i.e. expertise location
Uncap people’s potential for growth
Where you go depends on where you’re coming from
Are you just starting out or down the path a ways? Is management pushing for the change or resisting it or unaware?
Is your organization’s use of web 2.0 in infancy, childhood, or maturity?
Maturity of your Just beginning Some progress made Many successes
Why bother? Explore, experiment, Proliferate applications Leverage enterprise
solve immediate need assets
Level Individual or team Group or department Enterprise or major
Focus Prototyping, small-scale Application, unbounded Infrastructure, learnscape
Sample project “Wikipedia” inside the Online communities of Comprehensive product
firewall practice knowledge system
People working together are vastly more productive than people working
in isolation, and the internet connects us all.
Collaboration is about building relationships that foster ideas, intentions,
and interests. Co-workers learn from one another. They inspire one
another. They build on each anotherʼs ideas. Small groups of them can
move mountains. A collaborative enterprise with shared values and
common purpose can change the world.
Workers innately know that when people work together they produce
greater results and enjoy their work more, too. Until quite recently,
collaboration was not easy, especially if distance was involved, people
It’s not about the technology.
didnʼt have access to the same information, or a worker couldnʼt ﬁgure out
who was the right person to contact.
It’s the people that matter.
Those barriers are fading fast. Software and networks that support
collaboration are in place and cheap, too. Workers complain about silos;
social networks enable them to walk through silo walls. Companies are
losing customers disgusted with unhelpful help desks, phone labyrinths,
and not understanding whatʼs going on. Transparency and self-service
are the cure.
In business, collaboration is a means to an end, and that end is
prosperity, longevity, and growth.
Question what you read here.
I asked Harvard Business Schoolʼs Andrew McAfee, who coined the term
Enterprise 2.0, why he thinks social software will transform the business Everything has shades of gray.
world. He told me that todayʼs collaborative technologies can knit together
an enterprise and facilitate knowledge work in ways that were simply not
possible previously. They have the potential to usher in a new era by
making both the practices of knowledge work and its outputs more visible.
Continues on next page
Collaborate or Die
The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, Stephen Colbert, the Manchester Guardian, Learning Circuits,
and other leading voices can’t stop talking about Web 2.0. You’ve read the stories: The web is now the read/write
web. Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia of 9.1 million articles in 253 languages, written entirely by volunteers.
Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr are growing faster than the web in its meteoric growth phase. There are 70 million
blogs online, and 120,000 new blogs are created every day (that’s about 1.4 new blogs per second). These
phenomena are global; only 35% of all blogs are in English.
This is all well and good, but it provides no guidance to the manager who wants to take advantage of the new
technologies. Managers need to know the opportunities and the pitfalls, applications and benefits, tricks of the
trade and lessons of experience. That’s the sort of thing I intend to start (but not finish) here.
The Web is chock full of explanations of blogs, tags, and other social software. I interviewed scores of people to
capture their thoughts on the human side of implementing and sustaining collaborative networks. As you would
expect, people have different notions of what works. I’ve tried to capture these multiple perspectives in the
checklists and vignettes that follow.
When people work together instead of individually, they produce greater results and derive more pleasure from
their work. Until quite recently, collaboration was not easy, especially when distance was involved or people
couldn’t access the same information or a worker couldn’t figure out who was the right person to contact. Those
barriers are fading fast. Software and networks that support collaboration are in place and inexpensive. Everyone
complains about departmental silos; social networks bore through silo walls.
I asked Harvard Business School’s Andrew McAfee, who coined the term Enterprise 2.0, why he thinks social
software will transform the business world. He told me that today’s collaborative technologies can knit together an
enterprise and facilitate knowledge work in ways that were simply not possible previously. They have the potential
to usher in a new era by making both the practices of knowledge work and its outputs more visible.
Many Happy Returns
Business has already squeezed the big process improvements out of its physical systems, but for many
companies, collaboration and networking processes are virgin territory. The upside potential is staggering: people
innovating, sharing, supporting one another, all naturally and without barriers. The traditional approach has been
to automate routine tasks in order to reduce cost; the new vision is to empower people to take advantage of their
innate desire to share, learn together and innovate.
Web 2.0, the “collaborative web,” renders overstuffed file cabinets and hard drives overflowing with email
obsolete. Members of a group can share information and make improvements to one copy that’s virtually
available to everyone. Workers learn to remix rather than re-invent, and having everyone read from the same
page reduces the odds of mistaking obsolete information for current. Distance no longer keeps workers apart. As
we remove obstacles, the time required to do anything shrivels up.
Collaboration that does not increase revenue, improve relationships with customers, cut costs, grow employees,
expand innovation, communicate values, streamline the work process, or help execute strategy should not be
Tips for Community-building Sell, sell, sell
Deﬁcient marketing can kill the best learning program
Tip #1. Create infrastructure for questions
When dealing with small businesses, questions are par for the course, yet few companies think like marketers. A professional
and every business’ questions are unique. While no single person can marketer identiﬁes a position in the marketplace for the
possibly answer them all, an environment that invites questions and product and creates a brand that appeals to customers.
answers from businesses of all types always has someone with When Lance Dublinʼs and my book came out, we
answers. presented the idea at Training, TechLearn, ASTD,
eLearning Guild, and other conferences.
Tip #2. Understand how comfortable users are with technology
While blogs are everywhere in the press, not every individual is
comfortable with them. I asked more than a thousand training managers about
the image they wanted to put in the minds of their
Tip #3. Foster relationships consumers.
First, make sure that the environment has a variety of individuals from a
variety of backgrounds. Then, build relationships with some of them in If your learning programs were a car, what brand would
the same way that those individuals are building relationships with each
other. And because most word of mouth happens offline, be sure to they be?
encourage offline relationships as well.
Tip #4. Utilize user-created content
User-created content is an excellent trigger for discussion. By making
the content accessible and easy to find, those discussions happen
much more easily.
Tip #5. Have a moderator
A moderator is useful in connecting people in similar industries and with
similar interests, challenges, and problems. That’s important when a
site has a lot of information where it may be difficult for people with like
interests to find each other.
Why did you choose that one?
...... everything on the earth has a purpose, every
disease an herb to cure it, and every person a
mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.
Mourning Dove Salish
A community is a group of people who
form relationships over time by
interacting regularly around shared
experiences, which are of interest to all
of them for varying individual reasons.
Challenge the project champion
Every successful collaborative effort has a champion. A
champion needs more than enthusiasm to create a
successful team. Work to help your champions address
• What is the goal of the collaboration?
• What’s the current situation?
• What do you expect things to look like after the project?
• How will this be accomplished?
• What is the business benefit? (In business terms).
• How do you quantify the outcomes?
• What might go wrong?
• Is this a one-time project or an on-going process?
Bold moves require a champion. The • Do we have sponsorship higher up?
champion’s role is so vital, you must • Who will participate on the team?
challenge the champion to inspire • If it’s a one-timer, when will it be completed?
collaborators to achieve their full • What is the kill date for the project?
Rules for Successfully Scaling Startups
Robert Scoble’s advice to startups applies to scaling enterprise learning:
Have a story.
Have everyone on board with that story.
If anyone goes off of that story, make sure they get on board
immediately or ﬁre them.
Make sure people are judged by the revenues they bring in. Those
that bring in revenues should get to run the place. People who don't
bring in revenues should get fewer and fewer responsibilities, not
more and more.
Work ONLY for a leader who will make the tough decisions.
Build a place where excellence is expected, allowed, and is enabled.
Fire idiots quickly.
If your engineering team can't give a media team good
measurements, the entire company is in trouble. Only things that are
measured ever get improved.
When your stars aren't listened to the company is in trouble.
Getting rid of the CEO, even if it's all his fault, won't help unless you
replace him/her with someone who is visionary and who can ﬁx the
Do not try to boil the ocean.
Your mileage may vary, but in our experience, initial projects
have a better chance of thriving if:
Participants have a shared need.
Itʼs easy for participants to see whatʼs in it for them.
The information involved is not controversial.
A sound business case can be made.
Stand-alone implementation is feasible
(i.e., not requiring connection with other systems)
The project yields a good example to use when getting
support for other projects.
You can open in New Haven.
New Haven? Sixty years ago, producers staged new plays at
the Shubert Theater in New Haven, Connecticut, before taking
them to Broadway. No critics were in the audience, so if a
major overhaul was required before the ofﬁcial release, no one
was the wiser. Similarly, if your ﬁrst prototype bombs, itʼs nice
to be able to sweep it under the carpet and begin anew.
Working with social software
Keep it simple
Keep it ﬂexible
Do it yourself (blog/wiki) or you wonʼt understand it
Be innovative, ever alert to productivity improvements
Be open to new ways of doing things
Release early and release often. Just do it
Promotion is important. Remind people where to look
Focus on the function rather than on the tools
Provide step-by-step how-to guides
Provide the opportunity to celebrate small successes
Give people time to practice using the software
Excerpts from a review by Donald Clark
Worksheet for Developing an
One would expect a book on
eLearning Implementation Action implementation to be written by
experienced implementers of e-learning,
Plan and this is indeed the case with Cross and
Dublin. This book is a welcome change
from the general texts on e-learning, now
Excerpts from Implementing eLearning that the industry is in its second wave,
By Jay Cross and Lance Dublin, 2003 where practical rather than theoretical
issues have come to the fore.
Derived from Chapter 10 of Implementing eLearning, a 140-page guide The ten chapters cover those things
to building a successful change management and internal marketing beyond the technology and content - the
plan for your organization. human factors and cultural resistance that
implementers face and the tools and
The book asks readers to insert the information they developed techniques one can employ to overcome
answering the questions that follow to assemble a successful these obstacles. The aim is to guide the
implementation action plan. reader into producing an implementation
strategy, with the first half of the book
covering planning and definition; the
second, the actual plan.
Implementing e-Learning is for both those who are about to launch an e-learning
After a thorough grounding in change
initiative as well as those who want to realize greater returns from their existing e-
management theory, pulling out summaries
learning efforts. Based on extensive research on what has worked and what
from the usual suspects such as Kotter,
hasn’t in major organizations around the world, it offers practical approaches to
Jaffe, Scott, Conner and Rogers, the book
ensure the success of e-learning in your organization - based upon proven
then gives advice on the readiness of your
concepts from change management and consumer marketing.
organisation for e-learning. This includes
cultural readiness, technology readiness,
Some organizations fail to achieve the results they want because they don’t
organisational readiness and leadership
adequately prepare for the change that e-learning represents. Make no mistake
about it; implementing e-learning is tough. It takes planning and preparation,
leadership and accountability, communications and education, and support and
It then moves into the theory behind
commitment. It takes effective change management.
communications, marketing and branding.
This is where it gets interesting. The short
Other organizations have everything in alignment -- except the learners. They
chapter on communications is excellent.
assumed they knew what was good for them and they were wrong. You need to
Less convincing is the chapter on market
think instead of learners as customers and your e-learning as a brand. It’s a
research, where some idiosyncratic tools
are presented. Chapter seven moves up a
gear with some excellent tips, tools and
Implementing e-Learning offers practical advice and tools – drawing from real
techniques on launching your e-learning.
experiences - on how to make your e-learning successful. We believe you will
The book continues in this practical vein.
find it to be an indispensable tool in your e-learning toolkit. Get it! Read it! Apply
Chapter eight covers practical advice on
copy writing and other marketing
techniques and chapter nine the sustaining
of the marketing.
In this knowledge era, the constraint to innovation and success boils down to one factor of
production: people. Companies in the forefront are discovering that human resources are
the biggest constraint on business progress. Technical talent and the ability to innovate
are in short supply. The soft stuff is the hard stuff.
Competing successfully requires teams of inspired workers who are mentally equipped to
make sound decisions on the fly…to initiate and innovate relentlessly…to execute on good
ideas in a snap. The people you put on the front line with customers don’t have time to run
every idea up the management flagpole. You must equip them with the resources they
need to do it right in real time.
Consider today’s working environment. Cycle time shrinks, demanding that all the moving
parts of the business work together in real-time. The organization must be able to turn on a
dime. Buffers are disintermediated out of existence. Prep time gets squeezed. Slack
disappears. People are challenged to act from their individual understanding of the big
picture rather than following orders and procedures. The whales of the old Fortune 500 are
being surpassed by schools of minnows, each swimming where it will but at the same time
synchronized with the school.
Traditional approaches to training the corporate workforce are time-consuming and
excruciatingly slow. Old style trickle-down training with its one-style-fits-all approach simply
cannot keep the pace.
eLearning keeps people at the top of their game. eLearning leverages technology in new
and powerful ways to develop enthusiastic, skilled people and keep them current and
operating in peak form –- in real-time, in internet time. At some companies, eLearning has
radically improved productivity, fueled innovation, reduced administrative overhead,
inspired employees, accelerated the internal flow of intellectual capital, and built
eLearning fails to significantly change the behavior of many who stick with it all the way through
because they forget the lessons before they have an opportunity to apply them, the content is not
applicable to their work, or they just get tired of rebooting out of the Blue Screen of Death.
This book is about making sure you do it right. It's a complex problem. It's pointless to blame the
training department, corporate IT, line managers, trainers, or employees for eLearning’s failure to
At the January 2001 meeting of the eLearning Forum in Menlo Park, Hewlett-Packard’s Rob Harris spoke
about the difficulty of gaining internal agreement on a common definition of eLearning. This got the Forum
wondering whether the “e” was causing more problems that it was worth. Jay mentioned that perhaps the
Board of Directors should consider dropping the “e,” making us the “Learning Forum.” From the row behind
him, Cisco’s Peg Maddocks agreed, without skipping a beat saying, “Second the motion.” We kept the “e,”
for it’s a great marketing gimmick, but we knew in our hearts that it’s the learning that’s important.
Or is it? Management thinker Stan Davis says that no company should aim to become a “learning
organization.” A company should be a business organization. On the other hand, Peter Drucker, the noted
management guru, says that all companies are learning organizations; if they weren’t – and there are many
examples – they’d be out of business.
Regardless of your perspective, learning plays a supporting role. Learning is a means to an end, not an end
So, what is the end? Douglas Smith, a well-known expert in learning and performance, said in a recent
article in the online newsletter LineZine, “I don’t believe learning is the primary objective for most people in
any organization. The primary objective is performance … Most people in organizations are motivated to
learn when it makes a difference in their performance and the performance of their organization.”
It’s not the “e” that’s important. It’s not the learning that’s important. What’s important is the doing. If learning
isn’t producing measurable performance and advancing execution of the corporate strategy, it should be
redirected or abolished.
“If you build it….”
In the movie Field of Dreams , a voice in a cornfield tells the Kevin Costner character, “If you build it, he will
come.” He takes this to mean that if he creates a baseball field on his farm, the ghosts of Shoeless Joe
Jackson and seven other Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World
Series will show up to play. As Roger Ebert noted in his review, “Sometimes you can get too much sun, out
there in a hot Iowa cornfield in the middle of the season,” and, “The ghost of Shoeless Joe does not come
back to save the world. He simply wants to answer that wounded cry that has become a baseball legend:
‘Say it ain't so, Joe!’ And the answer is, it ain't.”
Two Sets of Tools
One of us, Lance, is a noted authority and consultant in change management and corporate learning. He is the
founder of an industry-leading company that developed custom learning solutions and implemented large-scale
organizational change initiatives. His co-author, Jay, is an expert in marketing and design who has helped millions of
knowledge workers take responsibility for their own learning.
Both of us have successfully implemented extensive learning systems in corporations in the United States and
internationally. Real-world experience has taught us to differentiate what really works from the pie-in-the-sky
nostrums of consultants whose only experience is giving advice. By our standard, eLearning that does not change
employee performance on the job in support of corporate objectives is simply not working.
We each have the generalist problem-solving framework that comes from managing companies of our own.
Nonetheless, we each focus on the processes we know best in our consulting practices.
Lance looks at issues from an organizational perspective. Where is the company trying to go? Who are the
stakeholders and what are their concerns? What are the barriers to change and how can we remove them?
Jay starts at the other end of the spectrum, looking at things through the eyes of the individuals who make up the
organization. How can we make each learner a partner in the progress of the company? What can we do to
promote effective learning? How can we convert our learners into enthusiastic fans?
Lance sees the world through the lens of change management; his customer is senior management. Jay regards
the world as a consumer marketing problem waiting to be solved; his customer is the learner.
Top-down and bottom-up
“The customer is always right,” and eLearning has lots of customers.
Executives market to their organizations. Functional managers market to field managers and supervisors.
Supervisors market to their direct reports. Training departments market to learners.
If we wanted to, we could talk about executive-customers, manager-customers, supervisor-customers, and learner-
customers. We won’t. It would be too confusing.
Rather, when we say “customer” or “consumer,” we mean the learner. We will call executives, managers,
supervisors, and other participants in the process “stakeholders.”
When we’re looking at preparing for eLearning, launching eLearning, and sustaining eLearning, we will talk about
how to apply change management from the top and how to apply consumer marketing from the bottom.
You won’t find Marketing Design in marketing textbooks or hear it in
lecture halls at business schools. That’s because I made it up. I have
never been comfortable with the somewhat mechanical approach
suggested by the Four P’s and their lockstep approach.
You’ve just gathered and summarized what you need to do and the
context in which you’ll do it. Now it’s time to think out of the box. It’s
time to be creative. We’re going to put our right brains to work.
Marketing Design is like brainstorming. Gather a small group of
colleagues. Appoint someone the recorder, who will capture ideas on a
whiteboard or flipchart. Announce the general rules: Outrageous ideas
are welcome. Piggybacking on other people’s ideas is encourages.
Negatives are not allowed. Say what comes to mind. Dive in. Get as
many ideals out of your heads and onto the whiteboard as possible. Be
enthusiastic. Be unrestrained. Go for it.
After fifteen or twenty minutes, stop the process. Reflect on what
you’ve got. Select the great ideas. You might have people put
checkmarks beside their five favorites. Have someone write up your
notes for review later on. I often take a digital picture and post it to a
website to contemplate later on.
You can’t rush creativity. For example, I find that I do some of my best
work while I’m asleep. I will plant the seed by thinking about the
subject at hand after dinner, telling myself that I intend to wake up
with fresh insight. When I awake in the morning, I sit at the keyboard of
my computer and the words seem to pop out automatically.
After you’ve slept on it, draw a mind map (if you’re visually oriented)
or jot down an outline (if words are your thing), no more than a page,
to highlight things that feel important to the design of your marketing
The Discipline of Design
For the moment, forget Instructional Design. Forget Graphic Design. Forget
Human-Computer Interface Design. We’re talking about Design with a capital D.
We focus on Design because is makes us aware that we’re working to create a
marketing approach that works well while balancing many factors. It takes
creative effort to get there. There’s no one best approach, any more than
there’s one best style of coffee pot. You can’t evaluate design out of context.
A good design combines the best representative values of the enterprise. For example, design at Braun reflects its commitment to products that
are innovative, distinctive, desirable, functional, clear, honest, and aesthetically pleasing. Here is how Braun applies its values to the design of,
well, a coffee pot. Braun seeks a solution that is a symbiosis of its values
Braun Design strives for true innovation; i.e. innovative design is used in order to express technical and functional innovation in visual form.
Braun Design is guided by enduring values, high standards, and the know-how of talented designers - essential factors for design with a
personality and style of its own.
The form of a product arises through an intensive study of the real issues surrounding its use and the lives, needs, feelings and wishes of the
people who will use it. The product has a friendly, likeable, and natural presence.
The design sets out to achieve the highest possible degree of usability and to optimize both the features of the product and the process of using
them. This approach results in products which are appropriate to their purpose and meet the needs of the user.
Braun avoids visual complexity and makes the structure of the product visible. The result is a product which is largely self-explanatory and
which convinces through its clarity and directness.
Braun Design is open and honest; it is comprehensible and self-confident. As such, it reflects the fundamental ethos of the entire company.
Braun Design concentrates on essentials. The logical organization of elements within the context of a structured design concept ensures that
the overall impression created by the products is one of harmony and restraint.
Using the metaphor of design in marketing reminds us that it is a creative endeavor and gives us time-tested maxims to guide our work:
• The most outstanding design is that which is perfectly appropriate to what is trying to be accomplished
• Less is more
• Form follows function 75
• Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.
Brand, segmentation, position
Shaker furniture is renowned for its beauty, balance, and functionality. Shaker design holds true to these guidelines:
• Industry: Do all your work as if you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow.
• Honesty: Be what we seem to be; and seem to be what we really are; don't carry two faces.
• Functionalism: That which in itself has the highest use possesses the greatest beauty.
We’re going to take them to heart by focusing on three aspects of marketing design:
• Brand– creating a reputation that keeps customers coming back for more and attracts new customers to buy in
• Segmentation – optimizing results by treating various parts of markets differently from the whole
• Positioning – placing your products in relation to alternatives in the mind’s eye of your customer
What is your gut instinct about the challenges you will face?
Take a look at factors within your organization that may help or hinder your implementation. How
many good signs do you see and what are they?
What are the bad signs you need to watch out for or plan to address?
These questions pre-date the web as we know it today.
I’ll update them if you guys tell me it would be worthwhile.
The primary business issues that will impact our eLearning are: Who are the major stakeholders? Owners?
Managers? Workers? Partners? Outside customers? How does your proposal support the vision of management?
How does this eLearning create value for your stakeholders What trade-offs are you making? Describe the risk in
your proposal and compare it to the rewards.
How do you think your customers will feel? How are you applying the 80/20 rule? What high-leverage groups or activities have you chosen? What
your coalition? How will you anchor eLearning in your culture? How do you plan to recruit innovators and early adopters? Who are our primary cus
Organizational Culture and Change
We must keep in mind that our organizational culture is: What artifacts typify your organization's culture? What
are the distinct features of your corporate culture?
Where do you see your culture on Hofstede's scales? And how might this encourage or block eLearning? We
are preparing to support our eLearning implementation through leadership. Which organizational leaders are
backing our efforts and why? Who are our change agents and why? What will we do to support them? Are the
learners prepared for this change? Is our organization prepared for change? Is our technology up to the task?
How will the initiative be governed?
Do the skills, knowledge, and abilities exist in our organization to ensure the success of our implementation?
What is our vision? [A vision statement is a picture of what you want the future to look like- what you aspire to
become, to achieve, to create.] What is our mission? [Your mission examines the project's purpose and
expresses its sense of value. Perhaps most important, a mission inspires people to stand out, and it guides
leaders.] What are audiences do we need to reach with our communication plan? What are the messages these
audiences need to hear, and when? What are the communication vehicles and activities we'll use? What will we
do increase awareness? What will we do to increase involvement? What will we do to increase commitment?
1. We undertook the following research to learn about:
• our consumers, the learners
• consumer behavior
• competitors for consumers' attention
• our brand image
• organizational goals
• our industry's environment
• the macroeconomic environment
• trends in eLearning technology
2. Our consumers: We've identified and described the target customers for our eLearning.
The consumers, your customers, are the most important topic of all. Use the 80/20 rule to
select the groups with the most likely impact. Then describe each group using a target
consumer description form. Two forms are provided below.
New hires: New hires:
Learning needs: Learning needs:
Line sponsor: Line sponsor:
Bottom-line impact expected: Bottom-line impact expected:
Market Research, continued
3. Competitors: We’ve identified the major competitors for the time and interest of our employees.
What or who are your major competitors? What other corporate priorities will you be competing against?
What objections do you expect from your customers?
4. Sponsors: We've coordinated our plans with many people in the organization. Who are our
executive sponsors? What's in it for them? Who are our line management sponsors? What's in it for
them? Who are our technical sponsors? What's in it for them? Whom must we rely on for success?
What's in it for them? How do we plan to get their backing and support?
5. Organizational goals: We know and support what our company is trying to accomplish What are our
organization's overall goals? What is the current mandate from executive management? How does our
eLearning initiative relate to its achievement?
Market Research, continued
6. Our industry's environment in light of the direction in our industry, we've identified
trends that will influence our eLearning initiatives.
• What are the major trends in our industry?
• Is solution selling replacing point sales?
• Are customers going for self-service?
• Is automation changing the flow of work?
• Is the enterprise becoming more international?
• Are processes being outsourced or moving overseas?
• Are competitors introducing new generations of products?
7. Macroeconomic environment. We expect that global events will affect our industry and
its need for learning.
• What political, economic, and social changes in the world at large may affect our
• What impact do you expect from increasing workforce diversity? Aging of the
workforce? Economic volatility? Declining half-life of knowledge? Faster pace of
business? Increased regulation? Globalization? International terrorism? Declining
public education standards? Other factors?
• How do we plan to adapt to the changes deemed relevant to our industry?
Market Research, continued
8. Learning technology: In all likelihood, the next three years
will see shifts in eLearning technology, and we need to lay the
groundwork for adaptation now as…
learning and knowledge management converge
eLearning becomes a Web service
simulation replaces linear subject orientation
eLearning and other enterprise-wide systems converge
content becomes more industry-specific
extent of high-quality generic content increases in core areas
individualized learning prescriptions are based on competency
competency management replaces needs analysis.
Wrap up market research section
If you've shared your findings with others, perhaps via your
intranet, describe the confirmation or suggestions you've
received from them.
Your market research could fill an extensive report. Don’t let it.
Less is more.
Go back through your findings and eliminate anything that
doesn't matter. After all, not every industry trend or competitor is
going to make even a ripple in your eLearning pond. Less is
more. Pick the two or three most striking findings in each
category, and use them to write a terse market research
Effective consumer marketing strategies rest on a foundation of
• a brand that creates a reputation that keeps customers coming back and attracts new
• market segmentation that optimizes results by leveraging the most appropriate groups of
• a position that places your product in the sweet spot in the mind of the customer.
We have used these concepts to develop our eLearning implementation plan:
[Please restate your elevator pitch here.]
1. What do we want our organization and services to be known for?
What do we promise our customers?
2. What is our functional value proposition to our consumers?
3. What is our emotional value proposition to our consumers?
4. How will our brand identity give meaning to the lives of our customers?
5. Just as a brand identity may reflect a person (personality), it may reflect an organization
and its culture. What attributes of your organization might your incorporate into your brand
With these factors in mind, the brand identity of our eLearning consists of the following
1. Brand name:
2. Brand symbol or logo:
3. A few core values:
4, What are our target markets and why did we choose them?
5. Which market segments will we focus on?
Include the materials you developed in chapters 7 and 8. For example: a three-paragraph
email announcing the eLearning initiative, a draft brochure for the program, an email invitation
to an open house and demonstration, and a publicity poster.
1. List five ways you intend to create buzz.
2. List five common obstacles to eLearning, and for each explain how you propose to
[If you are receiving help from your marketing communications department, you’re naturally
going to describe what they are doing for support and show any samples they have
developed for you.]
Sustaining eLearning It’s a shame when people work
hard to create a program and
1. How will we provide feedback to learners and their bosses? then blow it by under-investing in
2. How will we handle complaints? packaging. We’ve presented the
3. How will we assess customer satisfaction? development of your eLearning
4. How will we keep our focus on the customer? plan as a fill-in-the-blank
5. How will we show our customers that we respect them? exercise. Filling in the blanks is
6. Do we plan to use mystery learners? not all you need to do.
7. How will learners be able to co-create future learning events?
Have some old hands and people
8. Are we setting up a learner council?
unfamiliar with your project read
9. Are experienced employees to mentor new employees?
through your plan. Pay attention
10. How will we support the development of communities of practice?
to their feedback. Tighten up your
11. How frequently will we provide progress reports to stakeholders?
logic and your writing. A couple of
12. What will be in stakeholder reports?
months’ work justifies a few
13. How will we identify or solicit new challenges?
days’ polishing to sell your ideas.
14. How will we monitor satisfaction?
15. How will stakeholders request improvements or additions?
16. Are we setting up a board of advisors or a steering committee?
17. Is professional development of one's direct reports in managers' job descriptions?
18. Have supervisors themselves learned to support and reinforce their subordinates'
19. What systems need to be changed?
20. What performance management systems need to be changed?
21. What formal and informal rewards and recognition systems will you leverage?
22. Hitch a ride! What organizational initiatives will you seek to become part of?
Jot down your thoughts wherever there’s white space.
The Future of Talent
Traditionally, HR has two major functions: administration and
developing people. The administrative part is the busywork
benefits, personnel policies, retirement plans, reporting and
other routine activities. Outsourcing this clutter is generally a
What remains is talent. Some people call this Talent
Management but management is the wrong term. We want to
inspire people to do great work; telling them to do great work is
a non-starter. People are not assets; all assets depreciate in
value over time. Think of your people as investors. High
performance is in an investor’s self interest. In-house investor
relations is more a matter of stewardship. When I use the term
talent, talent stewardship is what I mean.
Talent has everything to do with relationships: recruiting the
right people, developing people, keeping them on board, and
seeing that they are fulfilled. Successful relationships are
flexible and personalized.
In lieu of control, organizations must provide opportunities for
people to grow, to excel, to find meaning in work, and to find a
higher purpose in what they do. Once we point to the desired
destination, we must trust our people/investors to head there.
Power to the people! Giving people freedom is a trade-off with
trying to control them. Micro-managing adherence to rules
instead of helping our people focus on outcomes gets in the
way of getting the job done. People resent the intrusion. It is
high time to replace rules-based management with principles-
Traditionalists worry about the time unmanaged people will
waste going down blind alleys. This sort of thinking misses the
bigger picture. Giving people more freedom enriches the role of
the manager. Gone is the tar pit of looking for exceptions and
whipping people back into line. You can inspire many times as
many people as you can try to control. Eliminating needless
minor adjustments frees up manager time to work on the big
The annual retreats on the Future of Talent
conducted by Global Learning Resources
keep me up to speed on these topics.
Harness Collective Intelligence
Frameworks for Learning & Development Organizations
Learning is not what organizations should focus on these days, at least not
learning as we have known it. Once empowering, our traditional concept of
learning has grown obsolete. And development? Development is a shared Live instructors are analogous to bank tellers. Thirty years ago, few
responsibility, not something we do for others. people could imagine making their own deposits and withdrawals. Now
they can’t imagine being required to work with a teller face to face. The
In the mid-twentieth century, learning sought to bridge the gap between people’s only place to get cash was inside a bank building or perhaps at a grocery
current skills & knowledge and what we thought they would need to get the job store.
done in the future. Here’s the rub: treating learning like this assumes that
conditions never change. Yet today’s jobs change blazingly fast. Shorter and Networks, both personal and electronic, provide the means to populate
shorter product development cycles leave no time to develop training programs the workplace with the knowledge equivalent of Automatic Teller
even if people wanted it. Machines, online banking, electronic bill-paying, debit cards, and
electronic funds transfer, everywhere and any time. Building the
Consider the textbook process for designing learning, ADDIE: analyze, design, connections for a networked knowledge system seems so appealing that
develop, implement, and evaluate. Analysis is crippled when the vision of the you wouldn’t expect resistance, as least among professionals who value
future is murky. Program design presumes we can peer into the heads of self- the outsize convenience and benefits. You would be wrong.
service learners. Development is a farce when the lessons are co-created with the
learner. Implementation implies an event, something that ends, and that’s when Everyone I talk with can get behind no-brainers like making it easier to
we evaluate it. Learning today is ongoing; it advances incrementally. It has to get answers to questions or cutting down on email. This is but the tip of a
keep current with its subject matter. Development never stops. very, very deep iceberg. In this case, incrementalism is the enemy of
innovation. Trusting employees to do the right thing, encouraging people
Think back to why organizations wanted learning in the first place: to share information, expecting innovation from everyone, not keeping an
eagle-eye on employee behavior, living in real time, and making people
for people to know how do their jobs responsible for their own development and growth: these are cultural
to improve service to customers, internal and external issues. Imagine replacing a tightly structured one-way corporate meeting
to stay current with new developments with a loosely-structured un-meeting, trusting things will self-organize.
to prepare for the challenges of the future
The internet and, more important, the values that accompany the internet
Workers still need to know how to do their jobs and increasingly, those jobs are create a radical transformation of our most basic assumptions. I don’t
something they have never done before. What better teacher than someone who mean using Google to look things up or Skype to make free phone calls
has been there? Let me have the email address or phone number of someone anywhere in the world. No, I’m thinking of a business world that is
who can answer my questions without wasting time to tell me what I already transparent, authentic, open, collaborative, customer-facing, loosely-
know. Or give me the number of an internal customer service hot-line. Or let me coupled, and amorphous. I mean a world where time is relative, distance
look up the instructions or FAQ. Let me find things out at the moment I need is dead, observation changes what the observer see, value resides in
know, not so far in advance that I will have forgotten it by the time I need it. intangibles, and inflexibility spells extinction.
Knowledge workers demand to know what they’re expected to do, but they resent Hyperbole is me. Sometimes the future appears clear to me, and I don’t
being told how to do it. This is where co-creation comes in. Instead of force- shy from sharing what I see, even though the first things to appear are its
feeding my brain, make it easy for me to find the answers for myself. extremes. So no, I don’t expect everyone to try leaping over to this side
of the great divide. I do believe, however, that you can’t reap the benefits
of the new way of seeing the world without letting go of what you’ve
become accustomed to. Perception is reality but we perceive only what
we expect. Therefore, the entrance to the new landscape for intellectual
adaptation, continuous improvement, and learning without end is
A view from IT Organizations
The collaboration section of a magazine geared to IT professionals recently contained an article titled
Cat-Herding Nightmare. The first paragraph echoes the Web 2.0-is-good-for-you party line:
Web 2.0 collaboration tools are irresistible to end users: They’re easy to set up and use and can be
accessed from anywhere. Employees can upload or create documents, spreadsheets, wikis, and
blogs, then invite co-workers and partners to access, edit, and download content. These apps often
include productivity enhancers such as search and tagging. And not surprisingly, vendors are
encouraging the trend–Microsoft and IBM have added wikis and blogging capabilities to enterprise
apps including SharePoint and Lotus, while Google and upstarts like Socialtext, PBwiki, and Jive
Software are luring corporate users with freebie accounts and dead-simple deployment. provision
users in minutes, pay with discretionary funds–and never make a single call to IT.
Warning to IT folks: Mayday! Mayday! Turf is being threatened. Put up the shields. Ready the cannon.
All these wonderful benefits. Too bad there’s a dark side.
Sadly, all IT gets out of the deal is a big fur ball as it struggles to organize corporate content run
amok. The potential for exposure of sensitive information or theft of intellectual property runs high,
as do concerns about noncompliance with corporate or third-party requirements as end users
scatter sensitive information around the Internet. If the company gets tangled in litigation, data
relevant to discovery requests may be lurking unknown on third-party servers, exposing the
organization to financial or legal sanctions.
Implication: IT can’t trust those pesky users. Possible solution: Get the knock-off versions of web tools
provided by IBM, EMC, BEA, and Microsoft. That lets IT continue its battle to maintain control, even if it
means dumping all those great benefits. The article notes that the products from the big boys…
…also come with the downsides of enterprise software–longer and more costly deployment than
software as a service, and longer lag between upgrades. Enterprises are unlikely to dip their toes
into collaboration through a six-figure software deployment. It’s not uncommon to find companies
using SharePoint and third-party SaaS products.
The article concludes that IT needs to keep ahead of technologies and provide services before users
demand them. That would be great but I am skeptical. Since IT has rarely come down from its me-first
perch, why stop now? Isn’t it easier to focus on the damage workers might do rather than the benefits
an open business gives its stakeholders. Should we really let IT make the tradeoff between the hair-ball
messiness of web 2.0 and staying in business? Nah, we won’t get fooled again.
I’ve looked at this from both sides now, it’s up and down and still somehow, I don’t think we should be
picking sides at all. IT should support the business, not the other way around.
Making the Decision to Decentralize
Is your business better off with a central command structure or
decentralized? Your future depends on the right answer. An excerpt from the
new book, The Future of Work.
by Thomas W. Malone
Author Thomas Malone, a professor at MIT Sloan School of Management,
says that the cheap cost of communication—e-mail, instant messaging, the
Internet—is making possible a new type of organizational structure. This
organization of the future will be decentralized, the term defined as
participation of people in making the decisions that matter to them.
Decentralization brings with it increased productivity and quality of life. But
decentralization isn't right in every situation. In this chapter from Malone's
new book, he asks: When should you decentralize?—Ed.
Soon after Lou Gerstner became CEO of IBM in 1993, he made what he
calls probably the biggest decision of his entire career. At the time, many
people in IBM and the business press were convinced that the best course
for the lumbering dinosaur was to break itself up into smaller companies.
By decentralizing in this way, they said, IBM would obtain the benefits of
smallness that it sorely needed—things like flexibility, speed, and
entrepreneurial motivation. And the market would be able to coordinate the
interactions of the resulting companies better than IBM's corporate
But Gerstner became convinced that the best choice was to do exactly the
opposite: keep IBM as a single large company and use its unique size and
capabilities to help customers integrate the diverse components of their
information technology (IT) systems. In other words, he wanted to use the
hierarchical decision-making structures of an integrated IBM to help
coordinate all the IT decisions that customers would otherwise have to make
on their own (or hire someone else to make for them).
Continues online at http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/4020.html
See http://hbswk.hbs.edu for more than a thousand free articles.
At home, at work
Workers have more sophisticated web 2.0 tools and techniques at home than at work.
It’s as if they write with a word processor at home but have only a manual typewriter to
use at the office. Individuals get the latest stuff when they want to while the enterprise
feels compelled to filter things through entrenched departments, stodgy procedures,
drawn-out planning, and multiple layers of approval.
People can often get up to speed quickly on enterprise apps because they are At home:
already familiar with web technology.
The low cost and easy installation of many web tools makes it easy for workers to
prototype new applications without approval from the IT department.
Removing the IT middle man between business need and business solution makes
things happen without waiting in line. Furthermore, putting control in the hands of
end users lowers the risk of creating unworkable “solutions.”
Workers to whom technologies such as instant messenger, Facebook, and
unrestricted search have no patience with organizations that limit their use at work.
The success of some organizations in granting workers more freedom demonstrates
that loosening control does not automatically result in irresponsible behavior or At work:
Web technologies change organizational culture. Web 2.0 is a force for decentralization.
Give people the tools to share ideas, to collaborate with one another, to escape
organizational boundaries, to communicate directly with customers, and to take initiative,
and that’s just what they will do.
Information is power, and widely-shared information empowers workers. Networks
Web connections enable workers to walk through the walls of silos and to get on the
same side of the fence as customers and partners.
Doing things in the open for all to see works against information hoarding, hidden
agendas, political maneuvering, officiousness, and bureaucracy.
“If you think you can do a The wheel of change moves on, s
and those who were down go up
thing, or think you canʼt do a
and those who were up go down.
thing, youʼre right.”
Henry Ford “Never, Never, Never, Jawaharlal Nehru
Never give up.”
“It is best to learn as we go,
Without accepting the fact that not go as we have learned.”
everything changes, we cannot
ﬁnd perfect composure. But Leslie Jeanne Sahler
unfortunately, although it is true,
it is difficult for us to accept it.
Because we cannot accept the A scholar who loves “Expecting the world to treat you
truth of transience, we suffer. comfort is not ﬁt to be fairly because you are a good
called a scholar. person is like expecting the bull not
Shunryu Suzuki to charge you because you are a
Confucius, Analects vegetarian.”
There are three kinds of
people: those who can count
and those who canʼt. “If I had six hours to chop down
a tree, Iʼd spend the ﬁrst four
sharpening the axe.”
The Law of Two Feet
Changing culture is hard
If youʼre getting antsy, skip to another
section. You may ﬁnd something more Changing the nature of how people relate to one another at work is not
worthy of your time up ahead. You can read easy. People, organizations, and corporate cultures have different views
(or skip) things in an order you feel like. We on being open, taking risks, trying new things, realigning responsibilities,
have no linear hang-ups here. learning new technologies, and trusting one another. What works in one
organization may fail in the next.
The safe approach is to begin with a few small- scale experiments, score
“In my life Iʼve some successes, and replicate them in other areas of the company. As
experienced many the technology takes hold, policies are drawn to enforce common
terrible things, a few standards and safe behavior.
of which actually
Is your organization
ready for change?
Easy for people to share knowledge
Willing to share ideas in progress
Want to enable many voices
Can deal with messiness
Management is obsessively controlling
Unlikely to accept changes in how you work
Workers not online
Everything must be vetted by central authority
Professionals learn more from one another
than they will ever learn from outsiders.
What’s in it for my organization?
Speed up the ﬂow of information through the organization
Improve customer service
Streamline workﬂow and slash bureaucracy
Unleash the power of collective intelligence
Harvardʼs Andy McAfee says
Create a nerve center for corporate news and market intelligence “Enterprise 2.0 is the use of
emergent social software
Make all corporate know-how accessible 24/7 platforms within companies,
Recruit best candidates for new positions and make them productive quickly or between companies and
their partners or customers.”
Replace training classes with informal, hands-on learning
Open the process of innovation to all employees
Help workers build strong, supportive relationships
Enable managers to assess the status and direction of projects
Empower all employees to contribute ideas and feel part of the team
Better relationships with customers, prospects, recruits, partners, suppliers
Who’s the audience?
“I shall pass through this world but once; any
good things, therefore, that I can do, or any
kindness that I can show to any human being,
or dumb animal, let me do it now. Let me not
deter it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this
way again.” –John Galsworthy
Committed team members Organizations
Itʼs great to begin a long-term collaboration with a face-to-face meeting. Either in
person or virtual, social bonding comes before business, for thatʼs the platform on
which the work will be built. Begin with games and getting-to-know-you exercises.
Give people time to talk and become familiar with one another.
Social connections remain vital throughout the collaboration. People work best
with people they know. Encourage people to share information about themselves.
Post photographs of participants. Pinpoint their locations on a map..
Itʼs important that collaborators are working under the same set of assumptions.
Discuss each of these areas and ask for individual commitment to them.
Respect the team, and do what is best to accomplish the objective. Be
selﬂess, not selﬁsh.
Members will be active. If a member spots something to improve the
collaboration, she volunteers to do it.
Members freely share ideas and suggestions. They do not hoard
information or keep secrets.
Members treat each other with respect. The team is committed to
Members care for one another emotionally, helping one another over rough
spots and fears.
Use whatever tools are appropriate to advance the project: phone calls, on-
Members trust one another. They “make this marriage work.”
Be prepared for push-back. Workers who see collaboration as hindering their
work rather than supporting it will be reluctant to join the effort. Organizations that
are accustomed to a single viewpoint (usually top managementʼs) can become
rattled as other voices begin to speak. Itʼs useful to recruit a band of early
supporters to help sell the value of the project.
IBM and Sun employees have One company’s policy for wikis
thousands of blogs and wikis. •
Assume good faith
Assume that most people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it.
Both companies have great •
Being rude, insensitive or petty makes people upset and hinders collaboration.
policies in place because they’ve •
Donʼt do anything you wouldnʼt do face to face.
been improved over time. •
Improve pages wherever you can, and don't worry about leaving them imperfect.
• (Itʼs all beta.)
• No personal attacks
Save yourself lots of time and •
Do not make personal attacks. Comment on content, not on the contributor..
Ownership of articles
legal fees: take their policies. • You agreed to allow others to modify your work. So let them.
They’re on the web and also in
the Learnscaping Cloud.
Giving every worker the ability to write things into documents that can be seen
by all looks like a formula for chaos. And wonʼt some bad actors muck about,
spraying the ﬁles with digital grafﬁti. Time and time again, the answer has
turned out to be “no.”
When you have high
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has addressed the issue of vandalism
expectations of people, they
countless times. He draws an analogy to opening a new restaurant. This is
America, so the restaurant is going to serve steak. Some steak is tough, so he
generally live up to them.
will provide patrons with steak knives. People can stab one another with knives,
so he will seat his guests in cages. Whoa! Time out! Youʼve got to trust the
people to behave in a civilized manner or give up on the restaurant idea entirely.
And so it goes with open collaboration in the corporate world. Employees donʼt
turn into monsters just because they are online. Everything submitted carries
the name of its author. What better way to lose your job than by acting foolishly
in front of all to see
Organizations of the Future
The future world of business is evolving into plug-
and-play, outsourcing functions that are not core.
Internet technology provides a common language
for connecting business functions and processing
routine transactions. “Iʼll have my computers talk
with your computers.” Old hands know that without
an online collaboration framework in-house, the Speed
company could be cut off from its customers and
business partners. Also, itʼs unlikely many of the
people being hired right out of college would buy
into the old lone worker with pencil and paper
Focus on core, outsource the rest
Invest your money (or energy) where it will do the most good. CONTEXT
At the organizational level, do what your group does best and
outsource anything left over. Concentrate on your secret sauce,
not on routine and administrative stuff. What you’re really good at
Any behavior that can raise your stock price is core — everything
else is context. Context is “hygiene.” Do you bathe? Good. If you
didn’t you’d lose your job. But don’t expect to receive a
promotion for bathing no matter how squeaky clean you are. Your secret sauce
Differentiating on context is the single biggest waste of resources
in Fortune 500 operations. Without very careful management, CONTEXT
context always gets in the way of core because it absorbs time, Hand this stuff off
talent and management attention.
Shareholder value (AKA market cap) is a function of competitive
advantage, and organizations achieve it by focusing on core.
Companies are using social software to:
Everything else is context, and context is a needless distraction.
You don’t profit by maintaining trucks, cutting paychecks, or
Speed up the flow of information through the
taking out the garbage. Hand those things off to organizations for
whom those activities are core, e.g. Ryder Truck, ADP, or Waste
Improve customer service
Streamline workflow and slash bureaucracy
Unleash the power of collective intelligence
This applies to how you invest your personal time, too. To the
Create nerve centers for corporate news and
extent that you can pass off busy-work, you gain more time to be
productive. For example, consider someone who makes $150/
Make all corporate know-how accessible 24/7
hour doing her own taxes to “save” paying a tax preparer $500.
Recruit the best candidates for new positions
Since the tax work requires getting back up to speed,
and make them productive quickly
assembling the right collection of forms, and not inconsiderable
Replace training classes with informal, hands-on
arithmetic, preparing the taxes takes ten hours. Time is a limited
resource. She is trading the $1,500 she might have made to
Open the process of innovation to all employees
Help workers build strong, supportive
If you’re a working professional, it’s probably not sound to wash
Enable managers to assess the status and
your own laundry, move your yard, or paint the front fence.
direction of projects
Unless, of course, these activities energize your brain. Agatha
Empower all employees to contribute ideas and
Christie did the dishes to come up with answers, Golda Meir
feel part of the team
shined her tea kettle. Develop more productive relationships with
customers, prospects, recruits, partners, supply
chain, and other employees
THE ECOLOGY OF LEADERSHIP
by Peter M. Senge
Asking the Right Questions
The best way to learn is to ask questions. Here are a few starters for
diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of your organization.
• What are our unifying values? What have we stood for over
time? The ability to provide context and meaning for the work
people do is key.
• How do you organize your time? Is it spent on what you say is
important? If you want to know if youʼre really adding value, look
at your calendar.
• Whom do you depend on? Your real work team is those people
you count on to do your job — including support staff, suppliers,
customers, direct reports, even regulators. Your performance
depends on the quality of those relationships.
• What are you being paid for? All leaders must understand what
results theyʼre accountable for.
• How well do you practice teamwork, empowerment, service, or
whatever values you espouse? Credibility is the No. 1 issue for
leaders. By taking an honest look at your own practices — and
asking others to look at them — youʼll know where you stand.
• How do you convey difﬁcult issues? Learning requires an
acceptance, by deﬁnition, that one doesnʼt have all the answers.
Your ability to discuss complex problems and develop solutions
without making others defensive is a key to learning.
This is Management 2.0: we are all leaders. We must keep one another informed
in real time. We trust living systems to self-organize. Ironically, these are not
really some business consultant’s rules; they are Mother Nature’s.
The biggest challenge businesses today face is unlearning what was successful
in the industrial age and learning how to prosper in the network era.
Most companies are stuck in the past. In addition to their over-reliance on control,
these organizations think business a zero-sum game; I win, you lose. They tend
to have a black-and-white view of the world; things are rigid; the fundamentals Bioteams, by Ken Thompson
still apply. Secrecy is competitive advantage; hoarding information is the norm.
On the other hand, to companies that embrace the future, reality is the
unpredictable result of complex adaptive forces. Nothing is perfect; stuff happens.
Cooperation is a win-win game. Relationships are all-important, and the more
open you are, the easier it is to form them.
Companies are not machines; they are living organisms. Yesterday’s
organizational teams are giving way to organic, self-organizing bioteams. Here’s
the punch line:
After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and
what surrounds us is the secret to survival. Like the viceroy butterfly imitating
the monarch, we humans are imitating the best and brightest organisms in
our habitat. We are learning, for instance, how to grow food like a prairie, Nature knows best
build ceramics like an abalone, create color like a peacock, self-medicate like
a chimp, compute like a cell, and run a business like a hickory forest.
Many managers misunderstand the dynamic and living nature of the team as an
entity over and above its membership. Among the natural attributes of bioteams
Collective Leadership. Any group member can take the lead.
Instant Messaging. Instant whole-group broadcast communications.
Ecosystems. Small is Beautiful … but Big is Powerful.
Clustering. Engaging many through the few.
Plant a seed and look to nature to do the rest. Give workers resources and
challenge them to do what’s required. Rather than give them an extra push,
enable them to achieve accountability through transparency, not permission. This is business
Ken Thompson wants to define the team in terms of ‘network transformations’ –
not outputs. Transformation is going to require transparency, trust in the team,
shared glory, incremental improvement, and clear accountability.
Innovation, whether in the context of improving existing processes or reinventing an Business
entire industry, is never a mechanical process. While each practice is distinct, it occurs in a
fluid continuum. Two or more practices are often done in conjunction, certain practices may
be repeated, and an element of each is always present in the others. The three stages of the
process – what we refer to here as sensing, knowing, and executing – are common to all
Three statisticians are out hunting
creative endeavors. High-performing individuals, teams, and organizations are constantly when they see a deer. The first
iterating through this cycle. guy shoots and misses, ten feet
to the left. The second guy shoots
and also misses, ten feet to the
In summary, we found that leading in the digital economy requires sensing and recognizing right. The third statistician starts
emerging patterns and positioning oneself, personally and organizationally, as part of the jumping up and down flailing his
forces of change that are continually reshaping the world. Those who are successful appear arms wildly, screaming, “We got
to follow practices and principles which enhance this capacity. When this capability is fully him! We got him!”
developed, leaders at every level in organizations will find that through their intentions and
actions they themselves can actively participate in the unfolding of new business worlds –
and the rules by which they are created.
Illuminating the Blind Spot of Leadership
Design principles for evolving high-velocity business environments
Immersion—becoming fully engaged in the contexts at issue. In the words of Brian Arthur:
observe, observe, observe. All profound innovations occur in an atmosphere of immersion. In that atmosphere, or
sphere, one fully observes all that is happening and is also open to ideas from outside its boundaries.
Interpretation—becoming conscious of one’s own and other people’s views and moving across all of them with
ease. Nonaka’s principle of multi-discipline and multi-viewpoint dialogue supports the development of new
interpretations. McKinsey’s Richard Foster brings artists into corporate strategy conversations to inspire new
Imagination—a quality of observation that involves seeing and sensing: seeing objects and sensing emerging
patterns that suggest future possibilities. The imagination, says Henri Bortoft, is an “organ of perception.” To
imagine is to “redirect one’s attention,” as Varela puts it, from objects to sources and patterns.
Inspiration and Intuition—the senses that allow one to recognize and strive for the highest possibilities. This is
the level of primary knowing that Eleanor Rosch talks about, the level of presencing one’s highest possibility. And
it is the level Kahane was speaking of when he talked about the turning point of stillness in his Guatemala story.
Intention—the alignment of one’s will with what is trying to emerge as the larger whole.79 One of the best
leverages for changing the structure of organizational fields lies in the conscious use of one’s intention. “Intention
is not the most powerful force” says Brian Arthur, “it is the only force.”
Instant execution—rapid experimentation and prototyping in order to capitalize on emerging opportunities. At this
stage, a laser focus on instant execution and fast-cycle experimentation and learning are paramount. Execution
also means terminating experiments and options that do not work.
Implementation—embedding and embodying the seeds of innovation in appropriate structures. These structures
facilitate the next phase of evolution, emergence, and flow.
The Mythical Man-Month Business
Fred Brooks wrote The Mythical Man-Month about the lessons learned as the
senior software engineer behind OS/360, at the time the slickest operating system
What became known as Brooks’ Law states, “Assigning more programmers to a
project running behind schedule will make it even later, due to the time required for
the new programmers to learn about the project, as well as the increased
communication overhead. When N people have to communicate among themselves
(without a hierarchy), as N increases, their output M decreases and can even
become negative (i.e. the total work remaining at the end of a day is greater than
the total work that had been remaining at the beginning of that day, such as when
many bugs are created).”
He also noted:
To make a user-friendly system, the system must have conceptual integrity,
which can only be achieved by separating architecture from implementation.
To avoid disaster, all the teams working on a project should remain in contact
with each other in as many ways as possible (e-mail, phone, meetings, memos
etc.) Instead of assuming something, the implementer should instead ask the
architects to clarify their intent on a feature he is implementing, before
proceeding with an assumption that might very well be completely incorrect.
Brooks muses that “good” programmers are generally 5-10 times as productive as
Brooks’ Law seemed both whimsical and radical back in ‘75. It didn’t seem right that
adding people to a project would slow it down. A programmer told me it was like a
woman having a baby in nine months; it didn’t mean nine women could not produce
baby in one month. Brooks was saying more that that. He recognized that the
output of knowledge workers was not directly related to the hours they worked.
Today we recognize that a great knowledge worker may produce as much value as
a hundred of her less gifted peers.
Schools may mix the student with off-the-charts promise with his average
classmates to avoid the appearance of favoritism.
In business, it pays to devote special attention to superlative performers.
Knowledge workers can goof off and still be productive.
Factory workers, particularly those on production lines, produce the same amount
of value each hour. Most manual labor is similar: the best performer may produce
125% of the norm, but never 500%. Managers were lulled into equating hours and
output. An employee who knocked off work early was presumed to be a slacker.
Kibitzing in the coffee room was regarded as downtime.
Knowledge work is different. Google recruiters figure a top engineer can produce
two hundred times more value than the norm! Assume that top engineer sits on a
beach for six months and then, in the course of a few minutes, comes up with
Google’s new $5 billion innovation?
A page just for you
How to behave Live as if this is all there is.
* Look for the best in others. Other esteem.
* Share my thoughts and feelings. Be authentic. Be alert. Keep an open mind. Follow your heart. Mindfulness matters.
* Open the door to feedback. * Be here now.
* Smile. Learn. Laugh. Pay attention. * Walk in other people's shoes.
* Practice optimism. Be here now. * Get out of your comfort zone.
* Live with intention. * Get a game going.
* Think out of the box.
* Do what you love. Do it with gusto.
* Maintain balance.
* Don't obsess.
Mental expectations set real limits
* Learned helplessness.
* They are able because they think they are able. Vigil
* Optimism works better than pessimism.
* Logic = blinders to intuitive exploration.
Your rules here.
Time is a great teacher, but
unfortunately it kills all its pupils.
Move Closer to the Edge Innovation
“Out of the box” Innovation
“Out of the box”
Feeling wild & crazy
New Comfort Zone
The silent spring of American education
If you enjoy a good rant and haven’t experienced John Taylor Gatto,
you’re in for a treat. Gatto was an award-winning teacher before
coming to believe that compulsory schooling is a sham foisted off on
America for the needs of business, fear of a competent people, and a
misreading of German mental science. His The Underground History
of American Education is a gripping read — and it’s all available on
the web. Gatto makes compelling arguments for dismantling our
entire dysfunctional educational system.
Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something
like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making
what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the
priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and
protector of the social order to allow itself to be “re-formed.” It has
political allies to guard its marches, that’s why reforms come and go
without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much
David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal
development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first
—the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label
Rachel “learning disabled” and slow David down a bit, too. For a
paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and
stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount
merchandise, “special education” fodder. She’ll be locked in her place
In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a
learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one
either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by
human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never
examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.
Learned helplessness Cognition
They are able because they think they are able. Virgil
In Learned Optimism, Marty Seligman describes how depressed people are their own worst enemy. They
imagine the walls of the non-existent cell that holds them in.
Put a dog in a box with a transparent cover. The dog bumps his nose on the glass every time he tries to leap out
of the box. He learns the box is inescapable. Remove the cover, and the dog remains trapped. He has learned
that he can’t jump out of the box. Giving it a try will only bend his nose out of shape.
Organizations live within the confines of their own self-imposed limits. “We can’t…” should always be
questioned. People in one area of an organization refuse to consider no approaches, using the excuse of “We
don’t do that here.” Others in the same organization don’t have recognize the invisible boundaries. They grab
opportunity where they can find it. They become what Jack Welsh calls a boundary-less organization.
The beliefs of the boxed dog and the organization that can’t help itself rest on the assumption that things don’t
The defining characteristic of pessimists is that they tend to believe bad events will last a long time, will
undermine everything they do, and are their own fault.
Learned helplessness is the giving up reaction, the quitting response that follows from the belief that whatever
you do doesn’t matter. Explanatory style is the manner in which you habitually explain to yourself why events
Inescapable events produced giving up. Clearly, animals can learn their actions are futile, and when they do,
they no longer initiate action….
People who give up easily believe the causes of the bad events that happen to them are permanent: The bad
events will persist, will always be there to affect their lives. People who make universal explanations for their
failures give up on everything when a failure strikes in one area.
Depression is pessimism writ large. Normal depression is extremely common . .it’s the common cold of mental
illness. (The belief that your actions are futile is the cause of depression.)
Pessimists’ explanations for bad events are personal, permanent, and pervasive.
The belief in self improvement is a prophecy just as self-fulfilling as the old belief that character could not be
A = Adversity B = Belief C = Consequence D = Disputation . .argue with yourself (Evidence? Alternatives?) E =
Use optimism/pessimism scale in choosing sales people.
We each have a choice: to live our lives mindfully or to live them
mindlessly. Most of our limits are of our own making. Mindlessness is
the human tendency to operate on autopilot, whether by stereotyping;
performing mechanically, by rote; or simply not paying attention. Research: In business, we are conducting research into
Although exceedingly common, few people (unless they’re practicing mindful leadership, mindful contagion (i.e the effect of
Buddhists, perhaps) realize the extent to which they live mindlessly. one person’s mindfulness on another), and mindful
decision-making. Included in mindful decision-making is
Uncertainty engages the mind. work that compares the effects of single versus multiple
goals and work that considers ways to reduce the time
In The Power of Mindful Learning, Ellen Langer uses her innovative it takes to become psychologically prepared to engage
theory of mindfulness, introduced in her influential earlier book, to in a new task.
dramatically enhance the way we learn. In business, sports,
laboratories, or at home, our learning is hobbled by certain antiquated Langer defines “mindful learning” as having three
and pervasive misconceptions. In this pithy, liberating, and delightful characteristics, “continuous creation of new categories,
book she gives us a fresh, new view of learning in the broadest openness to new information, and an implicit
sense. Such familiar notions as delayed gratification, “the basics,” or awareness of more than one perspective”. She asserts
even “right answers,” are all incapacitating myths which Langer that this ability to cognitively shift contexts “increases
explodes one by one. She replaces them with her concept of mindful flexibility, productivity, innovation, leadership ability, and
or conditional learning which she demonstrates, with fascinating satisfaction”
examples from her research, to be extraordinarily effective. Mindful
learning takes place with an awareness of context and of the ever- Seven Myths about learning that encourage
changing nature of information. Learning without this awareness, as mindlessness:
Langer shows convincingly, has severely limited uses and often sets
on up for failure. With stunning applications to skills as diverse as 1. The basics must be learned so well that they become
paying attention, CPR, investment analysis, psychotherapy, or playing second nature
a musical instrument, The Power of Mindful Learning is for all who are 2. Paying attention means staying focused on one thing
curious and intellectually adventurous. at a time
3. Delaying gratification is important
We think we should already know what only firsthand experience can 4. Rote memorization is necessary in education
teach us. . . . In learning the ways that all roses are alike, we risk 5. Forgetting is a problem
becoming blind to their differences. . . . If we are mindfully creative, 6. Intelligence is knowing “what’s out there”
the circumstances of the moment will tell us what to do. . . . Those of 7. There are right and wrong answers.
us who are less evaluatively inclined experience less guilt, less regret,
less blame, and tend to like ourselves more. . . . Uncertainty gives us
the freedom to discover meaning. . . . Finally, what we think we’re
sure of may not even exist.
Continues on next
If you’re not mindful, what are you? page
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Notes from Ellen Langer interview Cognition
People in companies don’t get it. They continue following the
rules that were invented for another time. How do we push them
to the next world?
See On Becoming. It starts with the individual. When mindful,
less judgmental of others as well as self. Less fear translates into
taking less risk. Relationships build; competition dwindles.
Hierarchy is meaningless without context. A group of children,
blindfolded and playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey will best be
served by choosing the blind child to direct them.
The motivation is already there. It’s invigorating.
Self-help books tell you to be in the present. Well, okay, we’re
already there. Better advice would be to increase awareness of
the present, to notice new things. Ellen’s art
Take the personal to the universal. Take advantage of
When I was learning to drive a car, there seemed to be so many
things to keep track of, it was hard to drive. Doesn’t being
mindful take me back to that? Making driving second nature lets
me focus on other things.
No, that’s mindless. The only times mindless is appropriate is
when you’ve hit upon the absolutely best way of doing something Notes from a lecture
and nothing ever changes. Vigilance is hyper-focus; it leads to found on the web
stress. If she’s riding a horse that stumbles, she needs sort of a
soft vigilance in ply. You need to be potentially mindful. Almost everything we know is wrong
This limits innovation, health and
We want to retain uncertainty, and learn
how to exploit the power of uncertainty
We learn things in a simple perspective,
but then standing in a different place, it
becomes something completely different
We learn, and then learn to be mindless
Dr. Langer has described her work on the
illusion of control, aging, decision-making,
and mindfulness theory in over 200
research articles and six academic books. 108
Manifesto for Agile Learnscape Development
Consider which of these points from the Agile Software Manifesto you buy into:
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer
through early and continuous delivery
of valuable facilitators of learning.
Welcome changing requirements, even late in
development. Our processes harness change for
the customer's competitive advantage.
Deliver working prototypes frequently, from a
couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a
preference to the shorter timescale.
Business people and developers must work
together daily throughout the project.
Build projects around motivated individuals.
Give them the environment and support they need,
and trust them to get the job done.
The most efficient and effective method of
conveying information to and within a development
team is face-to-face conversation.
Our processes promote sustainable development.
The sponsors, developers, and users should be able
to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
Continuous attention to technical excellence
and good design enhances agility.
Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount
of work not done--is essential.
The best architectures, requirements, and designs
emerge from self-organizing teams.
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how
to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts
its behavior accordingly.
Knowledge is among us, not in our heads
Many processes tug at and work the fabric of knowledge.
“I will be a good person to work with—not territorial, not be a jerk.”
Measuring the Cost Effectiveness of Learning Business
An article in T+D magazine carried this line: “The fact is, as thousands of people around the world including
myself and my boss learned the hard way, there are few claims as outlandish and as unsubstantiated as
eLearning being a money saver.” I couldn’t resist sending this reply:
1. COSTS ARE NOT THE WHOLE STORY.
Costs are only part of the eLearning equation. The primary advantage my 3. THE PAST IS A SUNK COST.
clients attribute to eLearning comes from increasing the top line, i.e.
enabling organizations to do things they couldn’t do with traditional When making an incremental decision, count only incremental
training. costs. Most of my customers already have desktop computers,
local area networks, and Internet access in place. The money
For example, already spent on these resources shouldn’t be toted up as an
expense of eLearning.
Transforming a traditional business into an eBusiness
Certifying thousands of employees in technical disciplines
Accelerating revenue with simultaneous global product launches 4. THE LARGEST COST OF ALL IS FOREGONE OPPORTUNITY.
Upgrading customer service by building skills during non-peak hours
Merging organizations on Internet time Again and again, I’ve found the largest overall cost of any corporate
Providing scalable training to channel partners learning endeavor is the cost of people’s time. I’m not talking about
salaries and benefits; I refer to the value they would have created
The cost of eLearning is relative. So long as the bottom line is increasing, had they not been tied up in training. Opportunity cost per hour is not
organizations shouldn’t worry too much about costs. a fixed amount. A salesperson’s time during working hours in peak
buying season is worth much more than the same individual’s time
after closing time in non-peak season. eLearning often enables the
2. IT’S eLEARNING + ILT, NOT eLEARNING *OR* ILT. employee to shift learning to those non-peak hours.
Your article suggests that eLearning is an either/or situation. This is a
fallacy. Think of eLearning as supplementing traditional learning rather
than replacing it. Only apply e-technologies when the benefits are
Take prework as an example. Traditionally, prework might take the form of
reading material on paper. In today’s fast-paced world, the material is
often out-of-date before it’s read. And whether anyone reads it — and
gets it — before a workshop is anybody’s guess. The eLearning
alternative is to post the prework on the web, where it’s always current, Continues on next page
and require a passing pretest score for admission to the workshop.
Technology-enabled learning creates value by speeding things up. Business- Continued from
school professors compare making big corporate changes to turning around previous page
the Queen Mary. Turn the rudder and in a few miles, the ship changes
course. These days, organizations that lack the agility to turn on a dime can
only go about as far as the Queen Mary (which is moored in cement
alongside a pier in Long Beach, California.)
A Fortune 50 company used eLearning, knowledge management, and
collaboration to bring new-hire sales people up to speed in six months
instead of fifteen. Nine months x 1400 new hires/year x $5 million quota
= $5 billion incremental revenue. To be sure, better products, sales
campaigns, and a host of factors contributed to the gain but a tiny faction Opportunity Cost,
of $5 billion still yields a significant ROI. (Here are the details: New-hire foregone gains, is frequently the largest
expense of training and development
training at Sun Microsystems.) yet it is frequently overlooked because
accounting looks backward, not ahead.
Ten thousand consultants at a Fortune 100 technical services company Tell a sales manager you want to take
earned professional certifications via eLearning. The result? Less her people out of the field for two
attrition, better esprit de corps, and $100 million revenue/year attributable weeks, and you will receive a quick
lesson in how real opportunity cost can
to higher billing rates. be.
A software firm launches a new system into a $250 million global market
with eLearning and virtual meetings. This accelerates time-to-market by
two months, gives them first-mover advantage over a major competitor,
builds a more confident and enthusiastic sales force, and gets the
channel up to speed at the same time as the direct sales force. Gain?
$80 to $100 million incremental revenue.
A very large retailer of personal computers realizes that customers are
frustrated with their products because they don’t understand the software
that accompanies them. The company offers customers free admission
to an online learning community created by SmartForce. More than
100,000 customers sign up to learn Windows, Word, and Office apps
online. Value of increased customer loyalty? Conservatively, $20 million
in repeat business over three years.
Often an e-Learning initiative pays for itself right off the bat by eliminating
travel and facility costs, but that misses the point, because in comparison,
upside gains dwarf cost savings.
What do you want to improve?
Continues on next page
What do you want to improve?
Sensing and Seizing Emerging Opportunities by Joseph Jaworski ad C. Otto Scharmer
The New Rules in Business
Imagine you are milling about in a large casino with the top figures in high tech – the Gates, Gerstners, and Groves of
their industries. Over at one table, a game is starting called Multimedia. Over at another is a game called Web Services.
In the corner is Electronic Banking. There are many such tables. You sit at one.
“How much to play?” you ask.
“Three billion,” the croupier replies.
“Who’ll be playing?” you ask. Our eyes are only
“We won’t know until they show up,” he replies. glass windows; we see
with our imagination
“What are the rules?”
“Those will emerge as the game unfolds,” says the croupier.
“What are my odds of winning?” you wonder. William Gilpin (1792)
“We can’t say,” responds the house. “Do you still want to play?”
– W. Brian Arthur
What distinguishes great leaders from average ones? Brian Arthur, economist, author and professor at the Santa Fe
Institute, says it is their ability to perceive the emerging nature and rules of a game as they are playing it. In today’s
economy, the name of the game, who’s playing, and how they’re winning is changing at a dizzying pace – and not just for
technology companies. The globalization of markets and market forces, the predominance of networking and
connectedness, the increased speed of all types of communication, and the valuation of knowledge over products mean
more complexity, more competition, and more change happening faster and faster. In a world of increasing returns –
where early success breeds more success – a marginal lead-time can spell the difference between big gains or failure.
Companies that want to thrive in this kind of flux need to develop a critical new capacity: the ability to sense and seize
opportunities as they emerge.
A New Core Capability
People who achieve industry breakthroughs or develop revolutionary ideas follow a set of five practices that we see as
the heart of this new core competence. Together, they constitute one organic process.
observing: seeing reality with fresh eyes
sensing: tuning into emerging patterns that inform future possibilities
knowing: accessing inner sources of creativity and will
crystallizing: creating vision and intention
executing: acting in an instant to capitalize on new opportunities
Where’s the ROI?
Many a corporation misses massive opportunities by demanding to know
“Whereʼs the ROI?” in cases where ROI is an inappropriate and
misleading indicator. Permit me to explain why.
Return on Investment means different things to different people To some, Intangibles rule
ROI is a hurdle a project must achieve to warrant investment. To others, Business enterprises exist to create value for their
ROI is a way to coax people to make the business case for a proposal. stakeholders. Once upon a time, value as proﬁt was a
Some treat ROI as a formula, others as a philosophy. good proxy for the value earned by investors. Proﬁt,
the proverbial bottom line, is the difference between
Typically, the higher you go in an organization, the more expansive the revenue and expenses, and these relate back directly
deﬁnition of ROI and the less reliance on it in decision-making. A $10,000 to changes in accounts on the balance sheet. Balance
decision is likely to require ultraconservative estimates, solid arithmetic, sheets record tangible assets: factories, land, trucks,
and measurements in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting and paperclips, things you can see and touch.
Principles. For a $5,000,000 decision, corporate politics, intangible
beneﬁts, and gut feel may overrule the numbers. And at the $50,000,000 In 1982, intangibles accounted for less than a quarter
level, the numbers are at best a footnote to the real way executives make of the value the U.S. stock market. By 1999,
decisions. intangibles, the no-see-ums, made up more than 80%
of the value of the market. Balance sheets do not
Picture this: A CFO has calculated an ROI of 154% for Project A and record intangibles, things like know-how, customer
155% for Project B. His CEO must decide which project to back to the relationships, and reputation. On the balance sheet,
tune of $100 million. Can you really imagine the CEO will make the highly-skilled people have the same value as new
decision based on ROI? hires: zero.
“You canʼt manage what you donʼt measure” is nonsense. The vast Imagine Google. Googleʼs book value, e.g. the stuff
majority of what senior executives manage is immeasurable. They make you can see and touch, is roughly $5 billion. Investors
judgment calls; they play hunches. How else do you select the right value Google stock at more than $13bmillion. The
people for key jobs? How else do you choose your partners? How else do $125 billion bump is what investors are willing to bet
you divine the future? Organizations pay senior executives handsomely to that Google will get better and bigger. This is entirely
buy their ability to make wise choices in the absence of simple intangible, i.e. not on the books and not on the bottom
If you were making decisions at Google, what would
you pay attention? Would you do ROI calculations on
what might impact the $5 billion? Or would you make
decisions to impact the $130 billion?
Where’s the ROI from
Letʼs take ROI back to its roots. Instead of using the conventions of 19th century
accounting, Iʼll deﬁne return as an increase in shareholder value.
When interactive technology (blogs, wikis, social software) is applied to an area for
the ﬁrst time, the results can be staggering. Consider these three examples where
costs were negligible, and returns are counted in eight ﬁgures.
• Three years ago, a staffer at Intel set up a wiki for sharing information among
individuals throughout the company. It grew organically and has become a vital
source of information throughout the company. Usage has surpassed a million
page-views. The wiki is doing what knowledge management systems and
intranets were supposed to do. The software was free. The wiki is self-
maintaining. Beneﬁts include time saved looking for things, less likelihood of
using dated or inaccurate information, and accelerated ramp-up of new hires. If
the system saves 30 minutes a week for its 20,000 active users, thatʼs more
than 200 person-years, i.e. $30,000,000 or more in annual savings. The
software was a free download. (Hereʼs a four-minute video on Intelpedia.)
• Four thousand professionals at CGI receive news and updates in their
specialties by subscription instead of foraging for research ﬁndings on their
own. Thereʼs less likelihood of important developments slipping through the
cracks, and the consultants can bill at least one incremental half-hour a week
per person with the time saved. The value of two thousand billable hours per
week? Astronomical. Costs were minimal.
• Tax preparer T. Rowe Price encouraged seasonal tax-preparation staff to
contribute Frequently Asked Questions to a central repository. The central
source of questions and answers enabled the 1,500 support staff to shave two
minutes off the duration of the average customer phone call. The result? Better
customer service and $15,000,000 in annual savings.
This is the tip of the iceberg.
Taking advantage of Web 2.0 to get things done requires at least a passing understanding the
Web 2.0 tools things listed here. Clicking the name in the left column will often take you to a three-minute Tools
Common Craft video explanation. Thatʼs a starter, but to get a gut-feel for these tools, you must
try them. Write a blog post. Watch a YouTube video. The URLs in the right column are a good
place to start.
Warning: Donʼt get overconﬁdent. Just knowing the technology will assure your understanding of
web 2.0 than studying quill pens will improve your appreciation of Shakespeare.
Tools for Changing Organizations
You need to go online
to experience these tools.
Andrew McAfee’s take on web 2.0 tools
Strength of Potential Web 2.0 What is
relationship benefit example emergent?
Strong Collaboration, Wiki Document
Weak Innovation, non- Social Information
Potential Efficient search, Blogosphere Team
None Collective Prediction Answer
Andy teaches at Harvard Business School. He coined the term “Enterprise 2.0.”
Personal Knowledge Management
These are the thoughts of Canadian learning consultant Harold Jarche
Learning has always been a personal thing, even when it happens in
formal training. It’s also social, in that our learning is affected by our social An easy web tool to start using is an online bookmarking system. I no longer
context, whether it be in conversation or observation. What’s relatively new have to search through Favorites or Bookmarks on my browser because I
is that the Web lets us manage certain aspects of our learning in a much use a social bookmarks. The most popular of these is del.icio.us. This social
easier way. We can connect, reflect, dispute and research with the click of bookmarking application lets me mark a web page with any number of topic
a mouse. headings (also known as tags), make that bookmark public or private, and
then have all of my bookmarks in an online searchable database. There’s
My experience in helping trainers and educators teach about learning on much less clutter now. I am constantly retrieving something from my archive
the Web is to first start with yourself. Those who use the Web for their own of hundreds of bookmarks for one reason or another. An online database like
learning have an easier transition in using it in training and education. this is handy when you’re away from your desk and want to share.
Imagine asking people to become trainers in the pre-Web era. Could they
be good trainers if they lacked presentation, speaking, writing, or With social bookmarks I almost never put anything into my browser-based
organizational skills? Today, you need web-learning skills. Bookmarks, except for the login page of some password protected sites. If
you did nothing else, just adopting a social bookmarking tool would save a
In our day-to-day learning, one often repeated task is making the link from lot of time in retrieving information. You can also use social bookmarks to
“this is an interesting idea” to “this is what I know”. The Web now provides share with members of a project team. After you’ve used them for a while,
us with an array of cheap and free tools to collect and collate information. you might see the value in sharing and searching other people’s topics or
Some people call this Personal Knowledge Management or PKM, which tags, but the bottom line is that these tools work for the individual.
I’ve found to be a good working term. PKM is a set of processes,
individually constructed, to help the flow of implicit to tacit knowledge. PKM
is more about attitude than any given tools. It’s taking our innately curious
nature and tapping into it so that we can continue to expand our horizons. PKM - putting it together
Blogging & Aggregators One of the important aspects of PKM is triage, or sorting. It’s the ability to separate
the important from the useless. Unfortunately, what you may view as useless today
Blogs are more than online diaries. They allow others to join in the could be quite important tomorrow. Developing good triage techniques takes time
conversation by linking from their own blog or adding comments to your and practice. Here is an overview of my PKM process.
posts. Over time, blogs create a network of connections, observations,
disagreements and hopefully some learning for their writers. If you’re A PKM process takes a few free web tools and enables you to start tapping your
uncertain how to start one, first read some blogs of interest and then information streams. You can file the good stuff somewhere you can easily find it.
make a few comments to join in the conversation. My system works for me because I’m curious and because I have developed a habit
of writing down my thoughts in a public forum. This has started some interesting
My own blog is the main platform by which I try to make some conversations about things that matter to me. Having a defined field of interest
unstructured implicit knowledge more explicit, through the process of helps stop my blog from spreading too far and wide and keeps my PKM
writing out my thoughts and observations of what I have come across in manageable.
my work. A lot of these observations come from the web sites that I visit
regularly. Previous attempts at knowledge management using information technology focused
on organizations and corporate knowledge. In many cases, workers did not use
Keeping track of these conversations is much easier with a feed reader, or these vast archives of information. The key to successful PKM is that it is must be
aggregator. This can save you a lot of time, and is the only way that I can allowed to be personal. Small pieces, loosely joined in an informal and unstructured
track hundreds of blogs. I use a free web-based aggregator called way, is a workable model for personal learning online, especially since anyone can
Bloglines, where you can see who has made a new post without actually add new tools as they are developed.
visiting that site. There are various options available, either web-based or
for the desktop. There are also some aggregator plug-ins available for MS The Internet is the most powerful communication environment that humans have
Outlook. ever built. Learning online is about communicating and connecting. Sharing through
blogs and social bookmarks is also good for the learning field, because it
A more recent suite of tools lets you keep track of your comments on encourages peer discussions. Perhaps the easiest sales pitch though, is that it
other blogs. Bloglines includes this feature on its latest Beta version and there are direct benefits to the individual. PKM is actually a time-saver and a
other applications such as Commentful and CoComment are free. learning accelerator in the long run.
Pattern: in-house wikis
Intelpedia is Web 2.0 in action. Three years ago, one of Intelʼs senior
product managers blogged that he was concerned that when engineers
retired from Intel, they walked out with an irretrievable part of our culture,
the stories that document the “good old days.” A Web 2.0 evangelist on
our staff read the managerʼs post that found him wondering aloud,
“Wouldnʼt it be cool if we had an in-house version of Wikipedia?”
A couple of weeks later, when the manager came back to try to make the
project happen, he was surprised to ﬁnd that the evangelist had already
mounted a free copy of MediaWiki on a server behind our ﬁrewall.
Everything was ready to go. Dubbed Intelpedia, it soon became the go-to
place for ﬁnding things out. Volunteers populated the system with handy
information from all corners.
“Intelpedia” has become the place to look up what an acronym means or
what a particular project looked like. It contains 28,000 pages of
information, all placed there voluntarily. The site is one of the ﬁrst stops for
new recruits, for exploring Intelpedia puts everything in the context of the
companyʼs procedures and values.
Today, 20,000 active users have generated more than a hundred million
page views. Itʼs become the de facto information sharing resource at Intel
-- without any ofﬁcial mandate from IT or even a formal plan.
Knowledge workers traditionally spend a third of their time looking things
up. If Intelpedia saved them 30 minutes/week, thatʼs saving Intel 200
person-years annually. Self-service learning is not only satisfying, itʼs great
for the bottom-line.
Pattern: User-generated FAQ
Seasonal tax assistants
questions on blogs that feed
into a wiki. Result is 10%
reduction in call time,
and more prompt customer
The U.S. Department of Defense spends the most money on
training of any organization in the world, yet a simple web
application started by two company commanders on their own a
has become the most important source of collaboration and
knowledge sharing among ofﬁcers in Iraq. The ofﬁcers had been
classmates at West Point shared quarters in Iraq. In the
evening, they would talk over the dayʼs events and reﬂect on
what they had learned. Sensing that other ofﬁcers might want to
join the conversation, they started a blog. Rather than go
through channels, they didnʼt ask for permission. (Anyone can
set up a blog for free in less than ﬁve minutes.)
The blog spread virally among company commanders,
becoming more valuable as more voices chimed in. Soon the
blog, Company Command, was a must-read. Unlike material
coming from the Pentagon, the conversations in the blog told
what had happened only hours before; they were in everyday,
conversational English, not bureaucratese; they focused on
need-to-know information for survival, not something one might
use next year.
Pattern: Social Networks
Self-service customer support at SAP. When SAP rolled out a
new generation of enterprise software, its 39,000 customers Vying for prestige, non-employee
soon knew more about implementing the software than SAP
itself. The ﬁrm established the SAP Developer Network to enable volunteers field nine out of ten
users to help solve one anotherʼs problems. Within three technical questions at SAP.
months, the community had more than 30,000 members. A year
later SDN had grown to 100,000 members. Now SDN is 650,000
members strong. Customers answer nine out of ten questions
asked, and they do it faster than SAP did in the past. SDN is a
community of practice; members are paid in prestige, not money,
for their contributions. SDNʼs developer says, “Web 2.0 is not
about technologies – it's about users treated as people,
communication, self expression…”
programmers compete to
provide the best
Site of the first World Cafe
Pattern: Unconferences Living Room of Juanita Brown and David Isaacs
Business meetings used to come in one flavor: dull. New approaches create meetings
that people enjoy, often organized in scant time, at minimal cost. The un-meetings are
* No keynote speaker or designated expert
* Breakthrough thinking born of diversity
* Having fun dealing with serious subjects
* Emergent self-organization
* Genuine community, intimacy and respect
Open source, open space, grapevines and gossip, conversations and stories, learning Reviewing results of World Cafe with His
spaces and learnscapes, unconferences and The World Cafe, podcasts and wikis, Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan
graphics and concept maps, complexity and community…these are part and parcel of
Conventional meetings are events; unmeetings are on-going processes.
Unconferences work because they spur relevant conversations, which I think of as the
stem-cells of innovation.
Meaningful conversation is more important than ever because conversations are
essential not only for imparting knowledge, but for creating it. Knowledge flows.
Imagine the power of conversation with other free range learners conducted outside
See the web site for lots of information on orchestrating un-events.
The first Bar Camp, August 2005
Our World Cafe in Abu Dhabi
Pattern: Professional subscriptions
River of professional research updates
Situation: Professional staff need to stay current with gushers of industry developments and research findings.
The volume of information is too great for any individual to keep up with.
Solution: Select one or two respected individuals per discipline to do front-end research for everyone. Provide
them time to scan the news and write up summaries and pointers. Encourage everyone in the community to
provide these spotters with tips on new developments. Set high standards for accuracy and brevity of the reports
to encourage on-going readership. Do not overwhelm the readers: three or four items/week is the upper limit.
The simpler a learning intervention fits into a person’s existing routines, the more likely it will take hold. In many
organizations, this means sending news summaries to people’s email addresses.
Technology: Using blogs to record the information creates an easily searchable archive as a by-product. Also,
blogs automatically create RSS feeds that enable people to subscribe to the research that interests them. See
Tools for Learning.
Savings: Replace three hours per week with thirty minutes of reading and digging deeper into topics. For a staff
of 100 professionals, that’s a savings of $600,000 per year. It’s also less likely important discoveries will be
Most of the
appear in our
cloud, for they
links to examples
Pattern: podcasts for learning Tools
What would you do if you had to keep 150 sales people around
the world up to date on healthcare and IT?
Intel Digital Health had been posting cell phone recordings to a
traditional website. Busy sales people couldn’t be counted on to
check them out and the medium lacked pizzazz.
A general manager/VP knew that Cisco, IHOP, and others were
distributing information via podcasts. He listened to a sample
podcast put together by his staff and gave the project a green
Intel instructional designer Marc Porter took on the project. He
purchased a video iPod for every member of the sales force.
The iPods remain the property of Intel. When someone leaves
the company, they return the iPod, just as they do with their cell
phone and laptop.
On the content front, Marc began by converting the firm’s library
into 20 QuickTime videos that were distributed with the
machines. Employees were permitted to keep music on the
iPods as well as the Intel videos.
Intel next produced an “The Expert Series” of customer
interviews that highlight best practices. These were
professionally produced, and the sales force loved them,
especially the anecdotal information. 84% were satisfied.
To develop a podcast, Marc would meet with a subject matter
expert to identify a topic, offer a method for producing it, and
select the level of presentation.
Early on, Intel discovered that PowerPoint was the wrong
medium for the iPod. They also determined that the iPod is not
appropriate for restricted information: iPods have no passive
security on board; a lost iPod causes no collateral damage.
Marc Porter won Intel’s 2007 innovation award for setting up
and running the iPod program for Intel Digital Health’s
community of practice.
Pattern: Conversation Tools
Jonathan’s Blog clues people in at Sun as to
what the CEO is thinking, what’s behind
strategic shifts, and the company’s take on
competitors. Imagine the value of direct
communications instead of dribble-down. It’s
immediate. And is eliminates the bureaucracy
of corporate communications “interpreters”
Peter Morville, Ambient Findability
the most vital
Pattern: Serious Games
Clark Quinn has developed instructional games for decades. Here’s his take
on the situation today.
Serious Games (or, to be Politically Correct™, Immersive Learning
Simulations) have hit the corporate learning mainstream, so you should be
asking yourself: “why are people excited?” Quite simply, because games (I’m
not PC™) are probably the most pragmatically effective learning practice you
can get. Sure, mentored real performance is the ideal, but there are two
potential hiccups: scaling individual mentors has proven to be unrealistically
expensive, and mistakes in live practice often are expensive, dangerous, or
both. Why do you think we have flight simulators?
For principled reasons, the best learning practice is contextualized,
motivating, and challenging. Interestingly, so are the most engaging
experiences. It turns out that the elements that cause effective educational
practice line up perfectly with those that create engaging experiences. Thus,
we can safely say that learning should be ‘hard fun’.
Then the issue becomes if we can do this reliably, repeatably, and on a cost-
effective basis. It turns out that the answer to this question is also in the
affirmative. While you can’t just shove gamers and educators in a room and
expect the result to work (all the bad examples that led to ‘edutainment’
becoming a bad word are evidence), if they understand the alignment above,
systematically follow a creative process (no, systematic creativity is not an
oxymoron; why do we have brainstorming processes?), and are willing to take
time to ‘tune’ the result, we can do this reliably.
The question is really: when to use games. The answer for engine-driven
(read: programmed, variable) games is when we have a need for deep
practice: when there are complex relationships to explore, or making the
change will be really hard. Branching scenarios are useful when we want to
experience some contextualized practice but we don’t need a lot of it. And the
principles suggest that at minimum, we should write better multiple-choice
questions that put learners into contexts where they must make decisions
where they’re applying the knowledge, not just reciting it.
And, yes, we can spend millions of dollars (I can help), but for many needs
we may not need to. While there isn’t any one tool that lets us do this, there
are a number of cost-effective ways to develop and deliver on the resulting
design. As I say “if you get the design right, there are lots of ways to
implement it; if you don’t get the design right, it doesn’t matter how you
Mobile learning Tools
You no longer need to be tethered computer to link to the web; a phone will Let’s get that straight right from the beginning: mobile learning is not about courses on
do. It’s all the same cloud. Learning has broken loose from the classroom. a phone. mLearning is where we really bring home the message: “It’s not about
Now it’s breaking loose from physical moorings altogether. learning…it’s about doing”, because while there are learning implications for mobile
devices, it’s really about performance support. Yes, one of the applications of mobile
That’s about all I know about mobile learning, so I asked my friend Clark devices is learning augmentation, extending the learning experience over time through
Quinn to grab the reins. distributed presentations, examples, and practice, but the real opportunities are
providing context-sensitive support for the mobile workforce. Increasingly, the
workforce is mobile, whether directly for work or indirectly, e.g. commuting, and they
have the devices (“Have you already purchased a mobile learning device?” “Let me
rephrase the question: do you have a cell phone?” “Hello…”). Not taking advantage of it
is just leaving money on the table.
The variety of mobile devices is vast, spanning media players, handheld gaming
platforms, PDAs, cell phones (though that name is no longer apt; cellular technology is
long gone), and, increasingly, smartphones. There are convergences, however, where
many mobile devices are now phones, media players, PIM (Personal Information
Management, read: contacts, calendars, memos, and ToDos), GPS, and more. If you’re
having trouble with any of these TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) BTW, you can do a
search on them to get them defined.
The issues are in how to develop content and resources for these devices, and the
answers stack up like a pyramid. The bottom is the proverbial “low hanging fruit”, the
content you already have that can be made available “as is” or converting the files to
mobile formats. So, your PDFs, your audio recordings of presentations, any videos,
and of course your web pages/HTML. The next level is taking all the content you will
continue to produce, and proactively capture it (if you’re not) and ensure that it’s an
automatic feature of your process to produce mobile ready versions. The top is to
develop specific mobile resources, and that’s where we’re reaching the tipping point:
instead of custom tools, we’re seeing the major tool providers now providing mobile
output options. The mobile web is another increasing option, as more and more mobile
devices include browsers. As I say, “480 x 320 is the new 1024 x 768”. Mobile is hitting
And, it is hitting it in many ways. There have been instances of successful courses on
mobile devices, but that’s not the sweet spot. One of the more useful options is in
augmenting online or face-to-face courses. We know learning retention fades fast
unless reactivated, and mobile gives us a great way to do that. We can send out
different ways of thinking about it, more examples, and even new forms of practice. In
fact, we should start rethinking the course, moving to blending including mobile as part
of the extended experience! The second major big win is in making accessible support
for the mobile workforce. We can provide manuals, trouble-shooting, even remote part
ordering, to the field engineer. We can bring customer refreshers and updates, cross-
selling recommendations, and purchasing capabilities to our mobile field force. And
Organizationally, the workforce is more distributed, more mobile, and needing to be
more opportunistic and contextually optimal. Mobile is an enabler of increased
individual and organizational performance. You need to treat it like any other initiative,
managing the change process, but it also leverages other changes that might be
happening. Knowledge or content management, mobile device deployment, webinars,
many are the initiatives that, with a marginal extra effort, make mobile an additional
delivery channel and opportunity. Take advantage of this new direction 137
Pattern: Internet Inside
Three years ago, Knowledge Management at Canada’s CGI Tools
was the proverbial black hole that sucked in information and
energy but never let it out. The staff who fed the beast were
well-meaning but weren’t equipped to provide CGI’s 25,000
employees the up-to-the-moment technical savvy they needed.
This is not sustainable in a firm that relies on its wits to CGI is 25,000+ professionals
working from 100 offices in 16
outperform its competitors in a fast-moving global field.
countries who provide systems
Executive management made raising staff satisfaction with KM
integration and consulting
a top priority. services in financial services,
Ross Button government, telecom,
Ross Button was tapped to head a project to raise collective manufacturing and retail.
intelligence. Ross and his staff of two, with in-sourced VP Technology Leadership
assistance from specialist groups within the firm, assembled
what Ross and I have dubbed Internet Inside. Imagine having
your own, custom version of the internet running behind your
Most important of all, the web software provides a social layer
Internet Inside is more complicated than that, but not much. that connects people with one another and with information.
Most of the software is open source: Drupal, Sourceforge, CGI is geographically structured but its collective intelligence
Mediawiki, WordPress, some crawling utilities, browsers and system connects the dots within the company. While we were
RSS coupled with a typical intranet infrastructure and the talking, Ross monitored the flow of information in the system in
Microsoft Office/Exchange Suite. real time with his Blackberry.
Because few people will willingly change the basic way they Internet software travels with an invisible companion, the
send and receive information, participants send and receive memes and processes I call internet culture. The net is an
information via their Microsoft Outlook accounts. Ross says environment for sharing, not a propriety package we complain
people don’t go to portals; they just don’t sign up. about. The net is optimistic: its opportunities dazzle us;
traditional software is negative: its flaw irritate us. The net
Participants already use the net and email, so there’s no values pragmatism and immediacy. We use email to
learning curve . Yet the package of interoperable web software communicate, not to swap polished essays. We value
performs at the enterprise level. The software is free or cheap, messages from the net if they do they job; it would be
not a trivial matter. A typical proprietary app that goes for $50 a superfluous to hold things up while we fix split infinitives,
seat is a million-dollar expense for a company the size of CGI. sentence fragments, and English-teacher conventions. On the
Also, the open source community continuously improves the net, people speak conversationally, absent the officiousness of
software’s design, making incremental improvements instead the traditional business memo.
of disruptive installations of new versions.
Continues on next page
Pattern: Internet Inside
Ross is tenacious. He says he will never cease putting tools into CGI’s
“agile infrastructure.” as there will always be new requirements and better
ways to support the business. New experiments are never dubbed beta;
they are pilots.
Interactions inside CGI feel fundamentally different from the open internet
such as Facebook. Community members act as they would face-to-face.
Thereʼs no spam, flame wars, and offensive behavior. Behavior is casual
People at CGI have joint ownership of their community. The community
designs and implements collective intelligence by how they participate.
Itʼs in everyoneʼs interest to make contributions and improvements. And it
would be unthinkable for participants to foul their nest.
For the foreseeable future, web 2.0 and rich internet application
techniques will influence not only CGI, but its customers and the business
world at large. By living web 2.0 inside, CGI incubates lessons it will later
share with outsiders.
The journey from initially downloading application code to nurturing a
thriving collective intelligence environment is much more a cultural
challenge than a technical one.
Ross was a disk jockey in high school at his local radio station. Some
evenings, heʼd be all alone in the studio, broadcasting to an audience of
thousands he could not see. He had to have faith in the network, to
believe the listeners were out there. Itʼs similar at CGI.
Pattern: Internet Inside
Less is more. Putting hundreds of messages in memberʼs email accounts is worse than
sending none. When overwhelmed by a gusher of content, people donʼt become selective;
instead, they shut down entirely. Ross has found that people at CGI will pay attention to ten
items in a message, sent once a week; they will not read thirty, nor are daily messages
CGI recently installed the Google appliance to open the door to previously trapped
information, some of it resident in legacy groupware applications. A Google search on the
open internet inevitably returns spurious results. A search for Paris points to Paris Hilton,
plaster of Paris, Paris, Texas, bateaux mouches, and the revolution of 1789. To leave the
chaff behind, CGIʼs Google only crawls sources vetted for members of the communities using
a crawling layer assembled with custom code, open source and proprietary utilities and a
human collection manager.
CGI has begun tagging all dialogs, not just by topic, but also by roles of the participants. A few
years hence, CGI will have sufficient information to identify in-house experts based on past
discussion. Beyond that, collective filtering may be able to point to people who are the best
bets for pioneering future technologies.
Innovation is often the top concern of CEOs. Imagine the value of assembling innovation
teams for new and prospective services from their prior activities and demonstrated
I suspect that CGIʼs collective intelligence project would not exist were Ross not its tireless
cheerleader and champion. Ross is vice president, technology leadership. “We’re not
advocating what we’ve done for ourselves as the ideal solution for everybody,” he says. “What
it’s done is really explore the use of open source in the enterprise.”
Internet Inside at CGI is proof positive that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies
An encyclopedia of tools for learning professionals
25 TOOLS PROGRAMME
Available: For individual, on demand use Cost: FREE.
This programme is intended for learning professionals who want to broaden
their horizons in terms of the range of tools available for learning - in a very
practical way - by getting to grips with 25 key free tools (or categories of
tools). The tools are a mix of personal productivity tools for managing your
own personal learning as well as authoring tools for creating all kinds of
learning and performance solutions. Many of them are Web 2.0 tools that
promote a social, collaborative, sharing approach to learning. (Note: we will
be enlarging and developing this toolset further.)
Behind each of the Tools is a Mini-Tutorial that comprises a number of short
tasks to help you find out how to use it as well as reflect on its application for Jane Hart
teaching, learning and for productivity and performance support. There is
also a Community to share thoughts, experiences and resources as well as
get help and advice from other members.1. Web browser - Firefox
2. Email tool - gMail/Google Mail Want to experiment with all of
3. Instant messenger - Skype the major web learning
4. Social bookmarking tool - Delicious technologies? Visit Jane
5. RSS reader - Google Reader Hart’s Center for Learning &
6. Real-time messaging tool - Twitter Performance Technologies.
7. Online Calendar - Google Calendar
8. Office suite - Google Docs
9. Mind mapping tool - FreeMind
10. Start page tool - iGoogle
11. Blogging tool - Wordpres
12. Web authoring tool - Nvu
13. Wiki tool - PBwiki.
14. Photo hosting and sharing tool
15. Presentation hosting and sharing tool - Slideshare
16. Video hosting and sharing tool - YouTube
17. Collaborative presentation tool - Voicethread
18. Podcasting tool - Audacity
19. Screen capture/ casting tool - Jing -
20. Polling and survey tool - PollDaddy
21. Web meeting tool - Yugma
22. Live broadcasting tool - Ustream
23. Social networking tool - Ning
24. Course authoring tool - eXe
25. Course management tool - Moodle
Public Service Leadership in a Web 2.0 World
Networks in practice
Evolution of networks
Acceleration of time
Holistic, volatile, intangible
Uncertainty, loose coupling
Connections, weak and strong
Nature of knowledge work
Inspire, don’t instruct
Groups not individuals
Creative friction, edges
Opportunity analysis Internet Culture
It’s not about the technology Mindfulness in public service
Self-service, spontaneous learning
Open, transparent, pull, ﬂat
Subverting hierarchy for good
Demand-side for education
Just do it
Setting up a web-software prototype is easy and cheap.
Often the way to see if something will work is to just do it.
Don’t plant one seed and hope it comes up. Improve your odds. Plant fifty.
is celebrating its tenth birthday.
Ten years ago I fell so deliriously in love that I neglected my
work, lost my job, and flew to a Caribbean island to sort out my
priorities. My mistress was the web, I love her still, and she’s
been very, very good to me.
When I graduated from college with a degree in sociology and
no technical background whatsoever, I took a job programming
and selling mainframes. Computers are commonplace today
but in the mid-sixties the popular press was full of articles
about giant mechanical brains that might rise to take over
human civilization. The initials IBM conjured up images of mile-
high IQs, theoretical physics, The Outer Limits, and Albert NCR 315
Einstein. Computers were mysterious and cool. I learned
COBOL and Assembler, and devoured Datamation magazine.
My freshly minted computer background enabled me to avoid
the Viet Nam War by getting a direct commission into the Army,
where for two years I oversaw mobile computer centers in
Germany. I’ve skirted the edge of the software business off and
on ever since. Generally my computer lust was like this thing I
had for Catherine Deneuve: beautiful but distant.
The Well (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) was a doorway to
thousands of online conversations among digerati, deadheads,
In the late seventies, a group of academics hired me to
do-gooders, dabblers, degenerates, and co-conspirators. I
research the market potential of an adults-only off-campus
became email@example.com learned about online community
degree program in business. Firms up and down Silicon Valley
from Howard Rheingold, Cliff Figallo, Tom Mandel, Robert
were enthusiastic. I spent the next two years developing
Rossney, and dozens of others. I surfed the web when the only
interactive workshops in management, marketing, finance,
on-ramp was Tim Berners-Lee’s NeXT machine at CERN. I
accounting, business law, and so forth for what morphed into
coded a web site when few people had heard of the web.
the University of Phoenix. When the gang moved from San
Jose to Phoenix, I quit to join a start-up in California to train
I became a web fanatic. Just imagine what could come of
bankers how to make sound loan decisions. A majority of the
coupling learning to boundaryless computer networks!
top 100 banks in the U.S. bought the idea, and for a dozen
Colleagues grew weary of my rants. Our company was focused
years I worked with senior loan officers, training directors, and
100% on CD-ROM interactive multimedia. I left the firm and
instructional designers at big banks. xt
flew to a Caribbean island to figure out what to do next.
Web + Learning = Internet Time Group
The concept of Internet Time Group came to me whilst
sitting amid the Mayan ruins of Cozumel. My calling would to
help people improve their performance on the job and
satisfaction in life. My experience with the University of
Phoenix and the Well led me to challenge conventional
wisdom about how adults learn. Often networking was at the
heart of it.
Back in the States, I talked with Silicon Valley companies
about harnessing the power of the web to teach technical
skills that were in short supply. I posted my thoughts on the
web. When the CEO of the largest CD-ROM training
company decided his firm needed to switch to hosted
distance learning, the firm scoured the web for someone
who knew the topic. My name came up 1, 2, 3, and 4, and
for several years, I read the tea leaves and wrote the white
papers at SmartForce, the eLearning Company.
Beyond the road less traveled
Oddball stuff is often regular stuff making a premature appearance.
When I began blogging (in the last century!), my friends didn’t “get
it.” When I started writing about eLearning, Brandon Hall emailed
me that he didn’t like the term; it wouldn’t stick. Others debated that
eLearning would never be as good as what takes place in the
Traditionalists were not pleased with my observation that “Courses
are dead.” People put down informal learning, saying it lacked rigor
and was uncontrollable.
To the naysayers I have sparred with since 1998, I have but one
thing to say: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
I believe we are at the gates of a new wave of human
consciousness. Everything is becoming connected. The global
Learnscaping brain is kicking in. The global heart won’t be far behind.
Re-thinking the advice business
This started with an idea rolling around in my head about using
new models for collaboration among business people and their
outside advisors. Tools
My admittedly jaundiced view of how major strategic
consultancies operate is this. A consultancy partner, perhaps
a fellow Harvard MBA, describes an elegant solution to a
common but humongous business problem to an executive
who may also have a fancy MBA. The proposed solution will
take months of work but will bestow competitive advantage so
the deal is on.
Three dozen recent grads come to the organization and work
their fannies off measuring anything that seems measurable.
They generate a report of findings, carefully cutting and
pasting the client’s name and data from a previous client’s
report. They cull it down to 95 PowerPoint slides and a 475-
page printout of spreadsheets. The partner returns to give
recommendations and treat executive management to a bottle
of vintage champagne. Generally, the results are no different
from what the consultant would have said before the study
except that this time there’s a fee of $850,000 for affirming the
It’s less extreme when a solo consultant or small firm is contacted for
advice. They must come on location, verify that they understand what’s
being asked for, ask a bevy of questions, and think things through. After
six interviews, two weeks of work, and two months elapsed time, the
consultant returns. Again, a thick report of cut-and-paste findings. Again,
essentially the same advice the consultant could have given over the
first cup of coffee. The fee? A reasonable $23,000 and a proposal to do
more work on the problem.
What’s wrong with this picture? It’s not just the money. It’s wasted time.
And it fosters weak-kneed decision-making. “Don’t blame me;
Accenture said it was the way to go.”
Here’s an alternative for executives who want to tap a outside viewpoint
to lower the risk of making a bad decision but want an answer in less
than 24 hours and don’t want to spend an arm and a leg to get it.
The executive calls a consortium of wise counselors who will ponder
her question and return with recommendations within 24 hours. The
consulting team uses a private conferencing network to host a dialog
about the executive’s issue.
Total time expended by the consultants: four or five hours. Fee:
The consultants have backgrounds comparable to top-tier
multinational consulting firms but enlist no newbies in their projects.
We went live with the concept in April 2008 and are still
experimenting with the best ways to do this.
“The key to the 21st Century will be in learning how to leverage informal
learning for us all. Jay provides us an evocative roadmap to how we can do
John Seely Brown
“Jay talks about unblended learning, emergence, grokking, envisioning,
unconferencing, connecting, conversation, community, web2.0 and JDI (just
do it). He makes the point that classes are dead, that every learner needs
to cultivate an ecology, share via voicing, communicate using stories and
build common text by collaborative editing (wikis).”
“Jay provides an important challenge for us all—to move our focus from the
classroom to the workplace, and, in doing so, reframe what we do in ways
that much more closely reﬂect how people actually learn and perform on the
Jay Cross is a champion of informal learning, web 2.0, and systems thinking. His
calling is to help business people improve their performance on the job and Marc Rosenberg
satisfaction in life. He has challenged conventional wisdom about how adults learn
“Jay is one of the most courageous personalities I've ever encountered,
since designing the ﬁrst business degree program offered by the University of
especially in a ﬁeld where self-interested cowardice is pretty much the rule.
Phoenix three decades ago. His clarity of vision on all things relating to learning in the corporate world is
only matched by his commitment to helping others make it work. He cuts
Internet Time Group LLC has provided advice and guidance to Cisco, Eaton, through nonsense with incredible speed and precision.”
Diageo, IBM, Sun, Genentech, Merck, Novartis, HP, the CIA, the World Bank, and
numerous others. We are currently reﬁning informal/web 2.0 learning management “Is Jay a revolutionary? Only in his long-term vision. For the rest his focus is
on the nuts and bolts of human relations, which is what transfer and
approaches that accelerate performance. Jay frequently leads Adrenalin Shot
development of knowledge is all about.”
Workshops for corporate teams.
Jay served as CEO of eLearning Forum for its ﬁrst ﬁve years, was the ﬁrst to use
the term eLearning on the web, and has keynoted such conferences as Online “Jay is an evangelist of the intelligent application of new learning methods
Educa (Berlin), I-KNOW (Austria), Research Innovations in Learning (U.S.), LearnX and tools, and he helps organizations improve the performance of their
people by speeding up their learning. Jay is also an absolutely great
(Melbourne), Emerging eLearning (Abu Dhabi), Training (U.S.),Quality in eLearning
presenter, a good writer, and a sharp mind to work with.”
(Bogotá), and Learning Technology (London).
He is the author of Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that
Inspire Innovation and Performance, coauthor of Implementing eLearning, “Take a mega-high IQ, some Berkeley attitude, a dose of e-learning
contributor to The Blended Learning Handbook, and author of many magazine curiosity and you get Jay Cross. For opinion and analysis, nothing is as
interesting or fun as Jayʼs blog.”
articles. Every day, thousands of people read his two blogs, Internet Time and
Informal Learning Blog. Kevin Kruse
Jay is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Business School. He and his
wife Uta live with two miniature longhaired dachshunds in the hills of Berkeley,
Acknowledgements and Version History
These words began to take shape in early 2008 as The Informal Learning
2.0 Fieldbook. Then I realized my content was changing too fast to be Meta
captured in a conventional book. It was also expanding beyond learning. I
changed the name to Eating the Dog Food: Getting Things Done in
Dog food? Years ago, a pitchman on television had said Alpo dog food was
so healthy, he fed it to his own dogs. Among software developers, using
oneʼs own programs became known as eating the dog food. To help an
organization prosper, I suggested they do more than just talk about what
they read here. They needed to eat the dog food.
My friend Gunnar Bruckner, a Berliner with signiﬁcant intercultural exposure,
warned me that the dog food metaphor did not travel well. Europeans
couldnʼt stomach it. A week before initial publication, the name changed to
I edited Version 1.23 from the remote hamlet of Soglio, a charming village
in the Bregaglia Valley in Italian-speaking Switzerland. My printed proof
copy arrived in Soglio three working days after I had ordered it from
Mimeo.com back in the States. I am amazed when things like this actually
Ignatia de Waard provided a page-by-page critique, the first, which I have Learnscape Architecture
took to heart, and the un-book is better for it.
Version 1.28 is provided via Lulu. I’ve shrunk the page size down to 7” x 9”.
I spent a few days in August 2008 at Intel. Architecture wasn’t what they
needed. They needed to do stuff, no dream it up. With Version 1.30, the
name of this un-book is becoming simply Learnscaping.
More is more. Version 1.32 includes bits and pieces of recent
presentations. I’ve adopted a chapter structure. The hardcopy version is
now perfect-bound instead of spiral. Page size has dropped to 5” x 9”.
Join me online at http://informl.com
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